The Detroit Tigers made their big splash in the 2022 international signing window, which began Saturday, by signing 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Javier Osorio.
Osorio, who turns 17 at the end of March, signed for a $2.2 million bonus, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Free Press. The right-handed hitter is ranked No. 13 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 50 International Prospects list and No. 10 on Baseball America’s Top 50 list.
At 6-foot-172, Osorio has power potential due to his bat speed and is expected to remain at shortstop throughout his development. He lives in Caracas, Venezuela, but traveled to Cartagena, Colombia, to meet with the Tigers on Saturday and sign his contract.
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“Osorio stood out early in the scouting process as one of the most advanced players in the 2021 class,” reads Baseball America’s report on Osorio. “He has high bat speed for his age, with quick wrists and an aggressive swing that gets through the zone quickly. That bat speed helps him drive the ball with impact and gives him the opportunity to develop into a powerful shortstop as he plays. Osorio’s best tools are on the offensive end, but he has the actions, the athleticism and the arm strength that could allow him to stay at shortstop.”
The Tigers agreed to a second Venezuelan shortstop, 17-year-old Samuel Gil, for a $1.2 million signing bonus. Baseball America ranks Gil as the No. 21 international prospect, but MLB Pipeline does not include him in its top 50.
The Tigres also landed Venezuelan catcher Josué Briceño ($800,000) and Dominican shortstop Heison Sánchez ($800,000). The bonuses were first reported by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
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The Tigers entered Saturday with an international bonus of $5,721,200. The MLB determines the amount of money teams can invest based on the size of the market. The Tigers rank second-largest of the four bonus pools, along with the Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Cincinnati Reds and Minnesota Twins.
Gil is a 5-9, 154-pound right-handed hitter from the state of Anzoátegui, located on the eastern side of Venezuela.
“Gil attracted a lot of attention from scouts, more for his skills on the game than his raw tools. He’s a high-IQ, instinctive ballplayer who puts together consistent quality at-bats with an easy swing, good skills of contact and an all-field approach to get to the base frequently,” reports Baseball America’s. “Gil isn’t much of a power threat, but he puts a surprising load on the ball for his smaller, skinnier size. His playing ability also shows on the pitch, where he has a good internal clock, plays under control and has a strong arm.”
As for last year’s class, the Tigers completed their big-ticket international signings in January 2021: Dominican shortstop Cristian Santana for $2.95 million (a franchise-record bonus) and Venezuelan shortstop Abel Bastidas for $1.175 million.
Santana, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Tigers’ No. 9 overall prospect, hit .269 with nine home runs, 30 walks and 46 strikeouts in 54 games in the Dominican Summer League last season. Bastidas, ranked No. 19, hit .188 with two home runs, 35 walks and 46 strikeouts in 54 games in the same rookie league.
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Before Santana held the team record for a signing bonus, the title belonged to Cuban outfielder Roberto Campos. He signed for $2.85 million in July 2019 and played his first professional season in 2021, hitting .228 with eight home runs, 17 walks and 41 strikeouts in 39 games in the Florida Complex League.
Campos is the Tigers’ eighth prospect.
Venezuelan shortstop Manuel Sequera also signed with the Tigers in 2019, agreeing to a $750,000 bonus. He won the 2021 Florida Complex League MVP award, thanks to a .246 batting average with 11 home runs, 15 walks, and 57 strikeouts in 46 players.
In July 2018, the Tigers signed outfielder José De La Cruz for $1.8 million and shortstop Adinso Reyes for $1.45 million.
De La Cruz hit .203 with five home runs, 27 walks and 132 strikeouts in 83 games between the Florida Complex League (44 games) and Low-A Lakeland (39 games). Reyes hit .184 with seven home runs, 12 walks, and 73 strikeouts in 48 games. He spent the entire 2021 season in the FCL.
Reyes is the Tigers’ No. 24 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, while De La Cruz ranks No. 29 on the top 30 list.
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