Venezuelan outfielder highlights Miami Marlins’ international signing class

MLB’s international signing period opened on Monday, and the Miami Marlins worked quickly to formally sign 21 players in their 2024 class. Among them are two highly touted prospects in Venezuelan outfielder Luis Cova and Dominican outfielder Jose Castro.

But the start of the signing period also brings to the forefront the fact that the Marlins’ international operations department remains in flux as the team still has yet to replace Adrian Lorenzo, who had been their senior director of international operations the past two years but left the organization in October to pursue an art career.

Assistant general manager Oz Ocampo is leading the department for the time being. He pointed to international scouting director Roman Ocumarez, assistant director David Hernandez-Beayne and international crosschecker Manny Padron as people who stepped up over the past three months to round out the signing class and keep the department running smoothly.

“It was critical,” Ocampo said. “The staff has been incredible the entire time. I certainly worked with Adrian as well the past few years to get me up to speed. ... All of our leadership staff across the board helped out in this.”

Marlins’ top signees

Cova, 16, is the headliner of Florida’s 2024 international signing class. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the No. 21 overall player eligible to sign, while Baseball America ranked him No. 26. Miami is signing him for $1.4 million of their $6.52 million signing bonus pool.

Baseball America described Cova, who converted to outfield after starting out as a shortstop, as “one of the most exciting prospects in Venezuela.”

“Cova is a bouncy athlete with a lean, well-proportioned build on a high-waist frame,” reads Baseball America’s scouting report. “He has good bat speed, strong bat-to-ball skills and a line-drive approach, with his gap power growing to now clearing the fence with more frequency and indicators of significantly more power on the way given his bat speed and strength projection.”

MLB Pipeline notes that Cova “takes good routes to fly balls and has shown solid range while patrolling center field. Overall, he sees the ball well, has good instincts and features emerging arm strength. Scouts love his makeup, tabbed him as a quick study and rave about his awareness. At the plate, he is quick to the ball and, although there is an unorthodox hand load, it works well and produces hard-hit balls. He’s a mature and serious-minded prospect.”

As for Castro, Baseball America ranks him as the No. 92 overall prospect in this cycle and that he has a “right field profile with explosive bat speed and raw power from the right side with more to come as he fills out (6-foot-3, 185 pounds), power-over-hit profile with at least plus arm strength.”

One other name to watch out for: Dominican right-handed pitcher Luis Paulino, which Baseball America has listed as a potential breakout prospect. His fastball touches 96 mph and he has a three-pitch mix rounded out by a curveball and changeup, both of which he has a strong feel for.

The rest of the class

Dominican shortstop Gregori Arias

Dominican first baseman/outfielder Alex Cruz

Dominican right-handed pitcher Alejandro De La Cruz

Dominican left-handed pitcher Kifraidy Encarnacion

Dominican right-handed pitcher Estarlin Francisco

Dominican right-handed pitcher Angel Garcia

Dominican left-handed pitcher Erick Gutierrez

Venezuelan left-handed pitcher Abraham Hernandez

Dominican second baseman Yordani Martinez

Dominican right-handed pitcher Gerinton Mendez

Venezuelan right-handed pitcher Eiver Mosquera

Venezuelan right-handed pitcher Carlos Ochoa

Dominican left-handed pitcher Robert Puente

Mexican catcher Kevin Robledo

Venezuelan right-handed pitcher Maikel Rodriguez

Dominican left-handed pitcher Jonathan Rosario

Dominican catcher Almen Tolentino

Venezuelan right-handed pitcher Jofreider Torrealba