Evaluating early returns from Red Sox’ 2022 international signing class

With the 2023 international signing period set to begin on Sunday, now feels like an appropriate time to reflect on how some key members of the Red Sox’ 2022 class fared in their first seasons of professional baseball.

Per SoxProspects.com, Boston signed 31 prospects for a combined $5.281 million between January 15 and December 15 of last year. Of those 31 prospects, one has already been traded, as left-hander Inmer Lobo was dealt to the Pirates in November in exchange for infielder/outfielder Hoy Park.

Just two members of the Sox’ 2022 signing class — Dominican shortstops Fraymi De Leon and Freili Encarnacion — received bonuses of more than $1 million. Two others (Venezuelan catcher Johanfran Garcia and Dominican shortstop Jancel Santana) signed for more than $500,000 while four additional players (Dominican outfielders Natanael Yuten and Cristofher Paniagua, Venezuelan shortstop Frayner Noria, and Venezuelan right-hander William Colmenares) netted between $125,000 and $400,000 in bonus money.

De Leon signed for $1.2 million last January and made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League less than five months later. The switch-hitting 18-year-old batted .218/.332/.268 with one double, one triple, two home runs, 21 RBIs, 29 runs scored, 20 stolen bases, 21 walks, and 61 strikeouts over 50 games (214 plate appearances) with the DSL Red Sox Blue. He saw playing time at both middle infield positions.

Encarnacion signed for $1.1 million and spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign with the DSL Red Sox Red. In 41 games for the affiliate, the right-handed hitting 17-year-old (turns 18 later this month) slashed .255/.335/.369 with eight doubles, three home runs, 23 runs driven in, 31 runs scored, nine stolen bases, 15 walks, and 51 strikeouts across 173 trips to the plate. He saw playing time at third base and shortstop and is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the 35th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Garcia signed for $850,000 at the same time De Leon and Encarnacion did. The younger brother of Red Sox outfield prospect Jhostynxon Garcia, Johanfran compiled a .268/.367/.333 slash line to go along with seven doubles, one triple, 23 RBIs, 26 runs scored, 21 walks, and 25 strikeouts in 40 games (161 plate appearances) with the DSL Red Sox Red last season. The 18-year-old backstop also threw out 26 of 58 base stealers from behind the plate.

Santana, like De Leon and Encarnacion, hails from the Dominican Republic. The switch-hitting 17-year-old signed for exactly $600,000 last winter and proceeded to bat .184/.303/.203 with seven doubles, one triple, two home runs, 16 RBIs, 25 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, 18 walks, and 56 strikeouts in 43 games (179 plate appearances) for the DSL Red Sox Red. He logged 317 1/3 innings at second base and just 31 innings at shortstop.

Colmenares received the highest bonus ($125,000) of any of the 16 pitchers Boston signed in 2022. The 17-year-old (turns 18 next month) righty posted a 3.79 ERA and 3.79 FIP with 40 strikeouts to 18 walks over 13 outings (12 starts) spanning 40 1/3 innings of work for the DSL Red Sox Blue. He reportedly possesses a three-pitch mix that includes a 93 mph fastball.

Of the 23 international prospects who received bonuses of less than $100,000 last year, Venezuelan infielder Marvin Alcantara may have made the strongest first impression. After signing for just $30,000, the right-handed hitting 18-year-old batted .302/.406/.397 with 15 doubles, one home run, 29 runs driven in, 49 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 29 walks, and 33 strikeouts in 53 games (224 plate appearances) with the DSL Red Sox Blue. He put up those numbers while playing every infield position besides first base.

Alcantara, who is listed at just 5-foot-10 and 157 pounds, did not receive much attention as an amateur. But it was Venezuelan area scout Alex Requena who made the case for the Red Sox to sign the La Victoria native, as assistant general manager Eddie Romero explained to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings last January.

“Just pounding the table for him,” Romero said of Requena’s interest in Alcantara. “He’s one of these guys that the crosscheck group really didn’t get to see much, but he made it to signing day and our area scout was just like, ‘You need to sign this guy!’”

Outside of Encarnacion, Alcantara is presently the only prospect included on SoxProspects.com’s top-60 rankings, as he comes in at No. 37 within the organization.

Alcantara, like many other players listed here, are projected to make the jump to the Florida Complex League for the 2023 minor-league season. Others will return to the Dominican Summer League and continue to hone their skills at the Red Sox’ academy down in El Toro.

(Picture of Freili Encarnacion via his Instagram)

Red Sox prospects Marvin Alcantara and Denis Reguillo identified as potential sleepers within team’s 2022 international signing class

Since the 2022 international signing period began in January, the Red Sox have signed 19 foreign-born free-agents, according to SoxProspects.com.

Boston’s 2022 signing class thus far is highlighted by the likes of shortstops Fraymi De Leon and Freili Encarnacion and catcher Johanfran Garcia, who happens to be the younger brother of Red Sox outfield prospect Jhostynxon Garcia.

While these three may be the early headliners, there are other young prospects worth keeping in mind as well. In his annual review of the Sox’ most-recent signing class, Baseball America’s Ben Badler identifies infielder Marvin Alcantara and right-hander Denis Reguillo as two possible sleepers to watch.

Alcantara, 17, was signed out of Venezuela by area scout Alex Requena back in January. The right-handed hitting shortstop did not receive much attention as an amateur and thus signed with Boston for a modest $30,000.

Still, despite the lack of eyes that were on him, Alcantara received a strong endorsement from Requena, who played a key role in making the signing happen, according to Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero.

“Just pounding the table for him,” Romero said of Requena’s interest in Alcantara in a conversation with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. “He’s one of these guys that the crosscheck group really didn’t get to see much, but he made it to signing day and our area scout was just like, ‘You need to sign this guy!’”

From the time he officially put pen to paper in January, Alcantara has made adding a muscle a priority over the last two months.

“Alcantara has started to add weight to his slender frame, standing out as a hit collector in games from the right side of the plate,” wrote Badler. “He’s a solid all-around player who could play at different spots around the infield, with his bat his calling card.”

Reguillo, on the other hand, was signed out of the Dominican Republic for just $10,000. There is not as much information available on the righty as there is on Alcantara, however.

“Reguillo was mostly in the mid-to-upper 80s as an amateur, but he has been adding weight to his slender frame since then and has the projection to be throwing in the low-to-mid 90s,” Badler wrote. “Adding more power behind his fastball would make him more intriguing, as he already has good feel for pitching and throws strikes from a good delivery with loose arm action.”

Both Alcantara and Reguillo are presumably raw and early on in their development. The Red Sox doled out a total of $40,000 for the two prospects, which accounts for less than one percent of their $5,179,700 bonus pool this year.

“The signing class isn’t made on January 15 (when the market opens),” Romero told Jennings. “The signing class is really made throughout the year when you have some more of these flexible signings. … We hammer the passed over and the (overlooked players) just as much as we do trying to make sure we’re on top of the premium, priority players in each class.”

On that note, both Alcantara and Reguillo are projected by SoxProspects.com to begin their professional careers in the Dominican Summer League. the 2022 DSL season is slated to begin sometime in July.

(Picture of JetBlue Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign Venezuelan catching prospect Johanfran Garcia

Saturday marked the opening of the 2021-2022 international signing window across Major League Baseball. The Red Sox have been as active as any team and have signed six players thus far, according to Baseball America signing agreement tracker.

Of those six players, catching prospect Johanfran Garcia may stand out above the rest.

Garcia, who turned 17 last month, will sign with Boston for approximately $650,000, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The native of Venezuela is the younger brother of Red Sox outfield prospect Jhostynxon Garcia, who originally signed with the club in July 2019.

Listed at 6-foot and 205 pounds, Garcia came into 2022 regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 34 overall prospect in this year’s class, ranking fifth among catchers in the publication’s top-50 list.

On the 20-80 scouting scale, MLB Pipeline grades the right-handed hitting backstop’s hit tool at 50, his power tool at 55, his run tool at 45, and his arm tool at 50.

“Garcia is built like Yadier Molina,” his MLB Pipeline scouting report reads. “He’s husky, strong and extremely durable. And while he could eventually develop into an all-around defender like Yadier, Garcia is better known for his bat over his defense at this stage of his career.

“The teen simply has a great feel for hitting and performs well at the plate in games and showcases,” it continues. “He has displayed the ability to spray the ball all over the field with authority and has what has been described as ‘sneaky’ pull power to his pull side.

“He’s no slouch on defense. He has average hands and projects to have an average arm. He moves well behind the plate and continues to work on his blocking and receiving skills.” 

In addition to Garcia, the Red Sox have also inked shortstops Fraymi De Leon, Freili Encarnacion, Jancel Santana, Yosander Asencio (Dominican Republic), and Marvin Alcantara (Venezuela), outfielder Natanael Yuten (Dominican Republic), left-hander Inmer Lobo (Venezuela) and right-handers Willian Colmenares and Denison Sanchez (Venezuela).

Boston has $5,179,700 to work with in terms of their international amateur bonus pool. Any player they sign for $10,000 or less does not count against the cap as this year’s signing window runs through December 15.

(Picture of JetBlue Park: Mark Brown/Getty Images)