Dodgers add two highly regarded prospects on first day of international signings

The Dodgers opened baseball’s international signing period Saturday by making two much-appreciated additions to their development system in 17-year-old prospects Samuel Munoz and Accimia Morales, according to a person with knowledge of the case.

Munoz and Morales head a class that is expected to include more than 30 new players.

Munoz, a left-handed hitter from the Dominican Republic, was ranked the seventh-best overall prospect available in this year’s international class by MLB Pipeline, which projected he would develop into a power player with enough defensive muscle to eventually compete in the infield or outfield.

Morales, a right-handed pitcher from Venezuela, was the 37th overall prospect, becoming the latest in a growing list of Venezuelan players joining the Dodgers in recent international signing periods.

The previous three years, the team had signed the highest-ranked prospect in the country, beginning with the addition of wide receiver Diego Cartaya – now regarded as the club’s top prospect – in 2018.

Morales was the 13th ranked Venezuelan player this year. Seven of the 15 total baseball players who had already agreed to a contract with the Dodgers as of Saturday afternoon are from Venezuela, according to Baseball America.

The Dodgers only had about $4.64 million to spend in the international period this year, tied with the Toronto Blue Jays for the lowest among MLB clubs (other teams had funds ranging from $5.1 million to nearly $6.3 million). The Dodgers lost $500,000 of their reserve as a penalty for signing Trevor Bauer last season, as he was a free agent who had turned down a qualifying offer from their previous lineup.

This year was the second international transfer window to start in mid-January, instead of its traditional July start date, a change originally prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since there are no contracts in the major leagues, the current MLB lockout did not affect the opening of this year’s term, which runs until mid-December.

Angels hone in on top 16-year-old prospects

The Angels signed two 16-year-olds ranked among the MLB Pipeline’s top 50 international prospects: Venezuelan outfielder Nelson Rada (29th) and Dominican outfielder Randy de Jesus (38th).

The 5-foot-1, 160-pound Rada, who accepted a $1.8 million bonus, is a speedy left-handed hitter who has shown flashes of power. The 6-4, 210-pound De Jesus, who agreed to a $1.2 million bonus, is a right-handed hitter with promising power and advanced contact skills.

Other Angels signings with an international signing purse of $5.179 million include Venezuelan catchers David Laverde and Eliezer Rivero, outfielders Kevyn Castillo and Luis Rodríguez, and left-handed pitchers Manuel Cazorla and Alejandro Rodríguez. ; Cuban right-hander Sadiel Baro and catcher Jonathan Linares, Dominican right-hander Nixon Encarnación, shortstop Capri Ortiz and outfielder Wilifer Estrella; and Panamanian right-hander Marco Vega and left-hander David López.

Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.

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Dodgers add two highly regarded prospects on first day of international signings