The Cincinnati Reds had long shied away from being involved in the top end of the international signing market that took place outside of Cuba. That trend has gone away over the last half-decade, though, for a variety of reasons. Fangraphs has updated their international prospect section of “The Board”, which is basically their prospect portal. One of the top rated players in the 2023 class is Alfredo Duno, a catcher from Venezuela. He is currently listed as projected to sign with the Reds.
Duno is noted by Fangraphs to have big time bat speed with a 30 home run ceiling. Defensively, he is like every teenage catcher on the planet – a long way down the development line. There’s a chance he winds up being a below-average defender and can remain at the position where his bat could play as one of the better ones around if it develops to it’s potential.
After signing Yorman Rodriguez and Juan Duran to 7-figure signing bonuses the Reds went nearly a decade without signing another non-Cuban international player to a 7-figure bonus before doing so in 2015. In that time, though, Cincinnati did sign both Aroldis Chapman and Raisel Iglesias to big league contracts – something that would no longer be allowed (think of the Shohei Ohtani signing as an example of how the new rules would work).
With the international signing rules set to change after the 2016 signing period, Cincinnati (and many other teams) went all-in. The Reds picked up Jose Barrero (then Jose Garcia), Vladimir Gutierrez, and Alfredo Rodriguez – all fro Cuba, and all to a bonus of over $4,000,000 each before penalties (which nearly doubled the amount paid by the Reds). Spending limits were then capped in MLB on the international side, and the Reds had to basically sit out of any “big” spending the next two seasons as penalty (no signings of more than $300,000).
Each of the last two signing periods after serving the penalty they’ve landed 7-figure players. They seem to have at least one in the 2022 class with Ricardo Cabrera, who according to one scout I’ve spoken to is the best player in the entire class. And could very well have another one in the 2023 class in Alfredo Duno. Things are changing in how Cincinnati operates on the international level.