The 2021 international signing period began today, and according to MLB.com reporter Jesse Sanchez, the Royals have signed one of the top shortstops. Sanchez reports the Royals have signed Daniel Vazquez to a $1.5 million bonus out of the $5.899 million the Royals can spend on international signings in this period.
Sanchez compares his build to “a young Fernando Tatis, Jr.” and MLB.com ranks him as the #12 international prospect in this period. Sanchez writes:
He projects to be an everyday shortstop with a plus hit tool and average power in the big leagues one day. There’s a belief he will hit around 15 to 20 home runs and sport a batting average somewhere in the .285 range while hitting at or near the top of the batting order. For now, he makes a lot of contact with his smooth and repeatable swing.
Ben Badler at Baseball America is also fairly high on the 17-year old, writing:
Vasquez has trended in the right direction as he’s grown into a taller, lean frame with high physical upside and athleticism in the middle of the diamond. He moves around well at shortstop with fluid actions and body control, along with a short righthanded swing with good bat-to-ball skills and power that should come as he fils out his 6-foot-2, 158-pound frame
Badler reports the Royals are also likely to sign Dominican shortstop Yosmi Fernandez for $800,000, calling him a “switch-hitter with a swing geared for line drives” that “will need to get stronger to be able to do more damage.”
Badler also reports the Royals will sign catcher Osman Bravo shortstop Diego Guzman, outfielders Sebastian Ramirez and Junior Marin from Venezuela and catcher Steven Cespedes, shortstop Yeison Vargas, and outfielder Angel Parra from the Dominican Republic. None of the signings have yet been confirmed by the Royals.
Shortstop Diego Guzman tries on his new gear. #Royals @MLBPipeline pic.twitter.com/hwhePhz5r0— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) January 15, 2021
If you are confused as to why the Royals are signing so many shortstops, it is because every athletic high school player either plays shortstop or centerfielder and can move off the position as they grow up and fill out their frame. This is a very hitter-heavy class - the only pitcher ranked in MLB.com’s top 30 is Cuban 19-year old right-hander Norge Vera. The Royals have been fairly aggressive in recent international signing periods, inking outfielder Erick Pena to a $3.8 million bonus in 2019.
The White Sox are expected to sign the top prospect from this international signing period, Cuban outfielder Yoelqui Céspedes, the brother of Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes. The international period typically begins in July, but was pushed back to January due to the pandemic.