Despite operating with the smallest bonus pool among MLB clubs, the Dodgers opened the international signing period on Sunday by nabbing two of the highest-rated prospects in this year’s class.
The team signed shortstop Joendry Vargas and outfielder Arnaldo Lantigua from the Dominican Republic, it announced Sunday night, the two headliners of the club’s 13-player signing class.
Vargas, 17, was ranked as this year’s third-best international prospect by MLB Pipeline, which listed the right-handed hitter at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, and praised his athletic frame, advanced approach at the plate and above-average throwing arm.
Lantigua, 17, was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the 23rd best overall player in the class, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound prospect with highly-touted power-hitting potential from the right side of the plate.
They were two of the six Dominican players the Dodgers signed Sunday. The others are shortstops Daniel Mielcarek and Elias Medina, and right-handed pitchers Anderson Jerez and Erick Batista.
The Dodgers also signed seven players from Venezuela: right-handed pitchers Jesus Tillero, Samuel Sanchez, Robinson Ventura and Luis Carias; catcher Eduardo Quintero; shortstops Harold Gonzalez and Javier Herrera.
For the second consecutive year, the Dodgers entered the international signing tied for the smallest bonus pool among MLB’s 30 teams, having only $4.144 million to spend on prospects.
They were docked $1 million as a penalty for signing Freddie Freeman last year, since he had rejected his previous team’s qualifying offer and the Dodgers were a luxury tax club the previous season.
The only other club that had as small of a pool this year was the Texas Rangers.
This is the third consecutive year MLB’s international signing period began in January, as opposed to its old start date in July.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.