As has been widely expected, the Nationals officially announced the signing of Cuban outfielder Cristhian Vaquero as the international signing period opened today. The 17-year-old switch-hitter is considered by many the top prospect in this international class.
The Nationals agreed to terms with 10 players from three different countries, headlined by Vaquero, to open this signing period.
Vaquero has reportedly been signed to a $4,925,000 bonus, which is a new club record for an international prospect. The previous record was $3.9 million for shortstop Armando Cruz last year and infielder Yasel Antuna in 2016.
The $4,925,000 bonus for Vaquero used up most of the Nationals' assigned $5,179,700 pool for international prospects during this signing period. It should be noted that bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward the pools.
MLB.com first reported Vaquero's estimated bonus range and The Washington Post first reported the exact number for the deal.
Vaquero is said to be potentially a five-tool player with a lot of raw strength and power. Originally from Havana, Cuba, Vaquero expedited his baseball development in the Dominican Republic, where he learned to switch-hit as a natural lefty. He's already listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 lbs., and scouts have said he is likely to settle in around 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds when he fully grows into his athletic build.
He also brings a lot of speed to the outfield and the basepaths. He has been clocked in his 60-yard dash times in the 6.4-6.5 seconds range. Reports say he can cover a lot of ground in center field and shows off a strong arm to have a chance to be a plus defender.
According to MLBPipeline.com, his tools grade on a 20-80 scale as hit (55), power (60), run (55), arm (55), field (55) for an overall rating of 55.
Vaquero is said to play hard with lots of energy and to show a lot of natural instinct in practice and in games, which is sure to make him a good fit with teammates and impress coaches as his Nationals career begins.
He's already familiar with current Nats outfielders who play in a similar fashion in Juan Soto and Victor Robles, having met them at the Nationals' Dominican academy. And he's already signed with Scott Boras' agency, of course helping his relationship with the Nats.
Of the 10 players signed by the Nationals, two are from Cuba, seven are from the Dominican Republic and one is from Panama. There are three right-handed pitchers and one left-hander, two catchers, three infielders. Vaquero is the only outfielder in the group.
All of the players are 18 or younger, except left-hander Marlon Perez, who is 21 out of Cuba.
More information on the 10 players can be found below.
Moved from its traditional opening on July 2 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this international signing period runs through Dec. 15. Although it's unclear if the pandemic or the new collective bargaining agreement could change the rules for next year's signing period, whenever it is, the Nationals are expected to sign Elian Soto, the younger brother of the Nationals' superstar right fielder.