Fans have been waiting for this day, January 15—the first day international amateur free agents are able to sign with a team. The San Diego Padres have signed 17-year-old shortstop Leodalis De Vries for $4.2 million (per Baseball America), who is expected to be inserted into the Padres top five or ten prospects when MLB.com updates their lists.
De Vries, who models his game after Cleveland Guardians star Jose Ramirez, is ranked as the #1 overall international amateur by MLB.com. A.J. Preller is known to love up the middle athletic players so it’s no surprise De Vries was the priority this year internationally.
De Vries is a point guard on the basketball court and his father played for the Dominican national team. Some evaluators believe he could be a 20 home run hitter and “has the intangibles to stick at the position long-term.”
Obviously at the major league level, San Diego is loaded with players that have shortstop experience so De Vries will have plenty of guys to look up to. Fernando Tatis Jr. started his major league career there. Xander Bogaerts is currently playing there. Ha-Seong Kim might switch back from second base if he leaves as a free agent. Jake Cronenworth has over 50 games of experience at short and Manny Machado grew up playing the position.
Then there’s Jackson Merrill—the Padres #2 ranked prospect—who appears to be getting close to making his big league debut. It’ll be interesting to see if the Padres will give De Vries a game in spring like they did with Salas last March.