Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The 2024 international signing period began on Monday, January 15, which opens the window for teams to add amateur prospects from around the world and runs through December 15.
An international player is eligible to sign with a team during this time so long as he at least turned 16 years old before signing and be 17 before September 1 of the following year.
Going into the signing period, the Dodgers had $5.284 million available to spend after forfeiting $1 million to sign Shohei Ohtani. Any signing bonus given to a player counts against the pool total.
The Dodgers began their signing period by adding one of the top international prospects available, agreeing to a deal with Emil Morales, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America:
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) January 15, 2024
Morales is a 17-year-old shortstop out of the Dominican Republic who stands 6’3 and has a chance to develop into a five tool player.
Morales is ranked as the No. 14 international prospect by MLB Pipeline, but FanGraphs has him No. 2 overall, and multiple scouts are high on him as well. He is a patient hitter with the potential to have plus power and profiles well defensively, even if he possibly ends up at third base or a corner outfield spot.
According to MLB Pipeline, Morales has the “potential to develop into a difference-making power bat,” and scouts have praised his baseball IQ and leadership. They also have him graded as a 55-prospect, with a 55 hit tool and power, while his running, arm and fielding grade out at 50 on the 20-80 scale.
According to Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs, Morales has arguably “the best long-term power projection among the 2024 international class infielders,” and his bat-to-ball skills have been strong. They also say he has a “decent shot” to stay at shortstop due to his skill and athleticism, but his size may push him off the position.
Dodgers not expected to be aggressive in international signing period
The Dodgers reported deal with Morales is worth around $2.4 million, and the club will add some other international prospects to the mix, but they are expected to save most of their money.
The current belief is the Dodgers have their eyes set on Roki Sasaki, who could be posted near the end of the signing period. If that comes to fruition, he would not be eligible to sign for any more money than a team has available in their international funds.
With Morales signing, the Dodgers have roughly $2.8 million remaining before any other deals they make.
Teams are also permitted to trade for additional money, up to 60% of their original bonus pool. Bonus pools totals otherwise are a hard cap and cannot be exceeded.
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