Baseball may be mostly frozen by the lockout, but teams can still sign international talent, and the Red Sox are prepared to strike for two of the better young shortstops in Latin America.
Per Baseball America, the Red Sox will sign teenagers Freili Encarnacion and Fraymi de Leon when the signing period begins this weekend. Both rank among MLB Pipeline's top 50 international prospects, and the two will bring differing skill sets to the Red Sox system.
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Encarnacion checks in at No. 19 on MLB.com's list. The 16-year-old is already rangy and strong at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, and his best tool is his bat. The right-handed hitter shows considerable power and may ultimately move to first base, with his makeup described as "special" by MLB Pipeline.
"The teen projects to have plus power and already shows the ability to hit high and deep home runs in games," per the Pipeline scouting report. "It helps that he has a disciplined approach at the plate and a good feel for the strike zone. He has shown the ability to spray the ball across the outfield, and has a knack for squaring up the ball and driving it up the middle."
De Leon just turned 17 and is considered an advanced defender with a strong arm and solid instincts. Baseball America refers to him as one of the best defensive shortstops in the class, "a quick-twitch athlete who is light on his feet with smooth actions and good body control at shortstop." The switch hitter stands 5-11 and 157 pounds, up considerably from the 5-9, 130 that he measured during an MLB showcase two years ago in Arizona.
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Pipeline ranks him 50th in the class, though it's an imprecise science, to be sure, given that many of the players haven't appeared in competitive showcases since 2019, thanks to the pandemic. The signing period was supposed to take place in July, but it was pushed back for the same reason.
The Red Sox will have a bonus pool of roughly $5.2 million to spend.