The Texas Rangers began the 2024 International Amateur Free Agent cycle by locking down three of the top fifty available prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. The Rangers entered today with an available singing bonus pool of $4,652,200, having forfeited $1,000,000 through the signing of qualified free agents Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob deGrom last offseason. In order to be eligible to sign with a team during this window, a prospect must have turned 16 years old before signing, and 17 years old before September 1st of the following year. The Rangers have publicly announced a total of twenty-three amateur signings, with the following three at the top of the class.
Paulino Santana, OF (#2 Int’l Prospect)
The Rangers made a late push for Paulino Santana, reportedly luring the outfielder away from the Dodgers in the final months, before signing with the Rangers today for $1,300,000. The 16-year-old from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic has been one of the fastest risers in the cycle, due in part to a highly projectable 6-foot-2 frame and mature approach at the plate. Santana begins his swing with a compact stance, before flashing his incredibly quick hands and a strong leg kick to drive through the baseball. He possesses plus speed, allowing him to find success both on the basepaths and giving him the chance to stick in center field in the long-term. Scouts think Santana fits the mold of a modern five-tool prospect, and his physical and plate maturity could lead to a rapid rise through the organization should the tools translate early on, similar to 2023 international signing standout Sebastian Walcott. Look for Santana to flash during spring training, where he will have the chance to make his case to be the third international amateur prospect in as many years for the Rangers to make the jump stateside in his first professional campaign.
Curley Martha, SS (#29 Int’l Prospect)
Curley Martha first broke out onto American televisions during the 2019 Little Leage World Series, where he helped lead Curacao to the title game. Since then, Martha has grown into a well-rounded prospect who flashes above average instincts at the plate and produces consistent line drives when he makes contact. The Texas Rangers were able to sign Martha for an $800,000 bonus, building upon the team’s connection with prospects from Curacao, dating back to the signing of former MLB #1 prospect Jurickson Profar in 2009. Martha has a rather stocky 6-foot-1 frame, which evaluators believe will allow him to continue to add muscle as he physically matures, giving him a chance to develop into more power than will be present early on. Defensively he has displayed quick feet and strong fundamentals that will allow him to stick at shortstop in the short-term. Martha will likely play the entirety of the 2024 MiLB season in the Dominican Summer League, where evaluators will be able to see how his improved bat speed and line drive capabilities play against more consistent pitching.
Yolfran Castillo, SS (#46 Int’l Prospect)
Yolfran Castillo presents a much different physical profile at shortstop, as the 6-foot-3 Venezuelan prospect has a rather narrow and skinny frame, leaving a lot of room for physical projection and growth. At the plate, Castillo uses a wider stance and quick swings, that scouts believe will be a contact over power approach for the near future. He is another late riser in the cycle due to technical improvements in his swing that have begun to bear fruit. Defensively, Castillo doesn’t have a true plus arm, but his quick first step means he’s got the potential to become one of the strongest defenders in the class. Overall, Castillo presents early on as a contact-first defensive shortstop with a lean frame that leaves potential for adding more power down the road if he develops physically.
Paulino Santana, Dominican Republic
Curley Martha, Curacao
Yolfran Castillo, Venezuela
Nathaniel Palacios, Venezuela
Daniel Flames, Venezuela
Angel Arrendondo, Mexico
Jose Marcano, Venezuela
Manni Ramirez, Dominican Republic
Joaquin Arias Jr., Dominican Republic
Andry Batista, Dominican Republic
Winder Linares, Venezuela
Jovensly Hilaire, Haiti
Yeisy Celesten, Dominican Republic
Claudiel Lantigua, Dominican Republic
Johmphy De La Cruz, Dominican Republic
Javier Sanchez, Venezuela
Ariel Yean, Dominican Republic
Jesus Lafalaise, Dominican Republic
Jose Silvestre, Dominican Republic
Gilberto Lopez, Dominican Republic
Ulife Caraballa, Dominican Republic
Keiber Armas, Venezuela
Jesus Lopez Venezuela