With each team restricted to spending just $2.9 million on the international market this year, the game has changed and how things play out will be very interesting to watch. So far, the Tigers strategy doesn't seem to have changed much. The team moved quickly to sign several players to moderate six-figure bonuses and they continued to work up the middle of the diamond.
The first reported signing was Dominican shortstop Domingo Leyba, a very good defensive player with potential at the plate as well. He is an instinctual player with a good head for the game.
"I need to see more from the bat but he's got some line drive potential from both sides," said a veteran international scout.
Another Dominican shortstop was signed at The Opening of the signing period, as Willy Adames agreed to terms with the club. In line with many of the Tigers recent trends, Adames also has strong defensive potential with power in his arm and some projection in his bat.
One the second day of the signing period the Tigers turned their attention to Venezuela, inking contracts with shortstop Adrian Alfaro and outfielder Victor Cortez. Unlike Leyba and Adames, Alfaro is a bit more of a bat-first prospect. While he has solid defensive potential at shortstop, scouts are mixed on his ability to remain at the position.
"He has the feel for the position but I think he might end up at second or third," said another international scout. "He's an interesting guy because of the potential with the bat."
Alfaro is a good athlete that has a good feel for the barrel and an idea of what he's doing at the plate. If the bat comes together, Alfaro could move to the States quickly.
One scout I spoke with likened Cortez to the Tigers 2010 signing of outfielder Danry Vasquez. While he is not as polished as Vasquez was at the same age, he has a long, lean frame and the potential to get considerably stronger. His bat speed is his best asset and according to the Tigers he has very intriguing power potential.
On top of their four Latin American signings the Tigers continued to increase their presence in Australia. Shortstop Zach Shepherd is a very interesting offensive player with very real power potential and a good feel for hitting. Like many recent Tigers prospects, he has exceptionally strong makeup and a great work ethic. While he is a shortstop now and he has a solid arm with good hands, he is a very physical player that should move to third base down the line.
Much like the Tigers previous Aussie shortstop signing, Aaron Sayers, Shepherd will finish high school before joining the club in the United States. While Sayers is still on pace to join the Tigers next year, Shepherd likely won't come Stateside until 2014.
Prior to the opening of the international signing period, the Tigers signed another Australian player, right-handed pitcher Dean Aldrich. Aldrich has an average frame with good strength and fastball projection. He currently dials his heater up to 90-91 mph at times and shows some feel for a breaking ball. Aldrich will come Stateside with Sayers in 2013.
On the other side of things, the Tigers big 2011 signing, Adelyn Santa, requested his release from the organization and was granted just that. In a conversation with Tigers director of international operations Tom Moore, he indicated that Santa recently expressed his desire to leave the organization.
It is a curious decision for Santa as he will now enter the free agent market a year older and possibly in less demand than he was in 2011. One positive note for Santa, as a released player, he will not be subjected to the new international bonus pool restrictions. Santa was known for his big arm at third base and outstanding power potential.
Though the Tigers have already inked five players during this year's signing period, Moore indicated that there are additional moves in the works and the Tigers could be announcing more signings soon. Check back with TigsTown for all the latest on the Tigers international signings.