The A’s have made 17 international prospect signings this offseason. These three could have an immediate impact on the club this season.
The A’s have taken part in what has been an unbelievably busy part of free agency at this point in the offseason, and the recent international signing period only ramped things up. The Oakland Athletics are one team who has made some big moves on international talent, capitalizing on being one of eight teams with the largest bonus pool of $6,366,900.
The A’s are no stranger to international signings that have an immediate impact–just look back at Yoenis Cespedes and his rookie campaign in 2012 that helped propel the A’s to a shocking AL West Division Championship. Like 2012, this current offseason has a series of unknowns looming over the team. This could potentially make room for the international prospects to have immediate impacts. Here is a look at the top international signees for the team this offseason.
Shintaro Fujinami (RHP)
The hard-throwing righty may just be at his peak. He has shown capabilities of hitting triple digits as the third hardest thrower last season in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. His biggest question has to do with his command but there have been promising improvements in that area as well, as he limited his walk rate last season. The 28-year-old gave an enjoyable, warm introductory press conference to A’s fans. Fujinami adds to a mix of several A’s pitchers who can easily be huge impact starters in the rotation right away. To that point, the team will give him a chance to start.
Luis Morales (RHP)
The A’s struck big acquiring the fifth best international prospect according to MLB.com. Morales has an electric fastball along with a slider, changeup, and curveball under his sleeve. He set a record for strikeouts while playing in the U18 league in Cuba striking out 161 batters through 82 ⅔ innings of work between 2019 and 2020. With average control, the 20-year-old may also be ready to have a part in the A’s rotation, an area that will be wide open for auditions this Spring Training. That would certainly be a longshot, but not impossible.
Darling Fernandez (OF)
Fernandez is one whose biggest potential comes in power but also could develop into speed and his throwing arm. Currently as it sits with the A’s outfield, the likely three starters will be Seth Brown in left, the speedy rookie Esteury Ruiz in center, and Ramon Laureano in right with the flashy Cristian Pache also likely to be on the major league roster. At this point Fernandez can be seen as a fifth option or even potential designated hitter, but a strong Spring Training could earn him a bigger role on the roster.
With many holes to fill, and many names barely known even within the franchise, the A’s could be the team where international talent shines in the 2023 season. After making many low-key moves this offseason, Oakland is hoping these longer-term plays reap larger rewards. Look for each of these three international prospects to at least have some opportunity to make an impact on the team.
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