The Tampa Bay Rays signed 23 players this past Monday as the international signing period officially began.
Among the group of teenagers the Rays agreed to terms with, outfielder Leonardo Pineda is the highest rated prospect according to Baseball America and MLB Pipeline.
Pineda, currently 16, is a very promising prospect with explosive offensive potential as he already possessed above average bat speed and well above average power which he uses to all fields. He should start his career in center field, but might slot into a corner outfield role as his body matures. Pineda received a $1.75M signing bonus, the largest given by the Rays to a player this signing period.
Meanwhile, another of the players signed by the Rays is emerging as a potential breakout candidate and could turn into one of the top players of the class. Shortstop Andreimi Antunez from Venezuela was considered among the best defensive players of the class as he can play above average defense at almost any position; however, the Rays believe he could develop into an exciting offensive player as well as he already has a solid swing and bat speed.
Flagged by Baseball America as one of the potential breakout players of this year’s class,
He’s a 5-foot-10 shortstop who is athletic, instinctive and floats around the position with ease, combining soft hands with nimble footwork and a good internal clock. A tick above-average runner, Antuñez is a switch-hitter with a good swing, albeit without much strength yet, but he has shown the ability to turn around good velocity for his age with some surprising sting for his size.
The other two top-100 ranked prospects picked up by the Rays are SS Angel Brachi and C Deinys Gonzalez.
Brachi is described by BA as a skills-over-tools defender, who has a sure hand and solid fundamentals that cause his overall profile to play up. A line drive hitter with solid short stop defense seems like a perfectly Rays profile.
Gonzalez is an athletic catcher with a solid catch-and-throw and a quick swing. He represented Venezuela at the U-15 World Cup Americas Qualifier in 2022.
NEW KID IN THE BLOCK!— Fabian Depablos (@fabiandepab) February 21, 2022
Deinys Gonzalez C 2023
14 y/o 6’0 ft 170 lbs
60 time: 6.4sc
82-84 mph from catching position
Massive bat speed/power combo that translates to game
Extremely athletic catcher@FlatgroundBats pic.twitter.com/hujCQiIinH
It will be a long time before we know how well the Rays made out during this signing period, but they have had quite a few success stories when diving into the international free agent pool.
Here is the complete list of the signings by the Tampa Bay Rays:
Dominican Republic: OF Leonardo Pineda, CF Carlos Matias, SS Domingo Batista, SS Israfell Bautista, RHP Sebastian Perez, OF Ismael Del Rosario, OF Emilio Galan, SS Jean Michael Santana, RHP Ricardo Guzman, RHP Damian Alcala, RHP Misael De La Cruz.
Venezuela: SS Angel Brachi, SS Aaron Pinero, C Deinys Gonzalez, SS Andreimi Antunez, C Erick Lugo, RHP Jhonny Aranguren, C Andres Torres, SS Raul Vargas, RHP Samiel Pateti, RHP Frank Chessman, RHP Antwan Leal.
Panama: C Jahir Marin.