The Tigers are closing in on a pair of teenage Venezuelan shortstops as part of a heavy group of international prospects they can begin signing Sunday.
Baseball America reported, and the Tigers have confirmed, that they are expected to finalize a deal with 16-year-old switch-hitter Alvaro Gonzalez, as well as right-handed hitting Carlos Irigoyen, who also is 16.
Each player can sign as early as 9 a.m. Sunday as a new, 11-month period begins for signing amateur players outside the United States.
Gonzalez is 6-foot, 170 pounds and has quick hands that make him a potential left-side infield option as a professional, as well as a hitter who is equally skilled from either side of the plate and who is expected to add power as he matures.
Irigoyen is 6-2, 160, and a more lanky right-handed batter whose physique reminds some Tigers scouts of former prospect and current Brewers player Hernan Perez.
Irigoyen is considered a superb defender who, like Gonzalez, could play shortstop or other up-the-middle positions, as well as third base.
The Tigers are expected to sign 25-30 players during the international phase. And they have made no secret of their strategies.
Gonzalez is ranked No. 39, and Irigoyen No. 43, on Baseball America’s list of 2017 Top 50 international prospects. Gonzalez is No. 23 on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 group.
MLB Pipeline reports that the deal with Gonzalez was for $1 million.
The Tigers farm system is light on position players, which led to an international focus this year on middle-of-the-field defenders and hitters who project as 1-through-5 batters in a potential big-league lineup.
The Tigers have $4.75 million for their international pool. They will continue to monitor targets in Cuba, as well. Depending upon amateur status and calendar cooperation, they can be signed as part of the $4.75 allotment.
Because this year’s traditional July 2 signing date falls on Sunday, it is expected there will be at least a one-day delay in formalizing some deals. Notarization of contracts is difficult to secure on Sunday in Latin America and the Tigers could be waiting until Monday, at least, to get formal deals secured.