The Orioles are the “favorites” to sign infielder Cesar Prieto when the international signing period opens on January 15th, per MLB.com’s Francys Romero (via Twitter). Romero reports the signing amount to be somewhere between $650K and $750K.
Baltimore has been aggressive under GM Mike Elias in pursuing international free agents. It’s one of the few avenues available to teams to add talent without giving up talent in return. Prieto raked as a 21-year-old in the Cuban National Series, slashing .403/.463/.579 over 360 plate appearances, showing off an intriguing combination of bat-to-ball skills, speed, and gap power.
Fangraphs lists Prieto as a second baseman with a 40+ future value ranking. They write, “Prieto is the best pure hitter in Cuba. He broke Kendrys Morales’ rookie hits record then broke the Serie Nacional’s hit streak record (40 games) in 2020 while striking out just six times in 250 plate appearances. His swing and game resemble Eric Sogard’s.”
At 22-years-old, Prieto is older than many international prospects, which could just make him a fast riser in Baltimore’s system. The Orioles need as much talent in their system as they can muster. Prieto represents a low-cost, low-risk opportunity to add a hitter with a proven track record of success in Cuba.