Blue Jays make flurry of signings in 2024's international Free Agency class

Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins
Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

On January 15th, the 2024 International Free Agency (IFA) period opened and international amateurs were allowed to officially sign with their respective teams. With years of scouting and build-up, many of these deals are unofficially agreed to in advanced. Players are typically 16-17 years old from Latin America and the top players in the class can get upward of four million dollars. IFA serves as the main point of entry to MiLB for talented Latin players. For example, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was the top Blue Jays IFA in the 2015 class. Despite its importance, IFA is still largely clouded in mystery here in Canada and the United States.

The Blue Jays have $5,125,000 to spend in this year's class. In this article, I'll go through the players that are signing with the Blue Jays and what is known about them. You may notice that there is a shortage of pitchers. Pitchers tend to lag behind hitters at this stage of development. The Blue Jays will sign lots of pitchers but they'll be for smaller bonuses as project arms. This is the case for the vast majority of other teams as well. You may also notice that seemingly everyone plays shortstop, catcher, or outfield. It is typical that the best player on the team plays an up the middle position (SS, CF, C) until they're forced to move down the defensive spectrum. Also note that Kennew Blanco is no longer signing in the 2024 class but appears to still be signing with the Jays in the 2025 class, presumably as the top signing.

Confirmed Signings

Franklin Rojas- Venezuela
16 y.o / RHH / Catcher

Rojas is the #27 ranked player in the class according to MLB Pipeline and he will receive the top bonus in the Blue Jays international class with a rumoured number of $1.1M. The right-handed hitter has a strong frame for his age and is already making consistent hard contact. He has the swing, bat speed, and strength to hit for significant power. He's an aggressive hitter who likes to swing but he does have average to above average contact skills. Rojas moves smoothly behind the plate at his current size and blocks well. He is more advanced as a defender than you typically see at this age and he has a good feel for game-calling. His athleticism is on display with his pop times and catch-and-throw skills. The lineage of Venezuelan catchers is a strong one and Rojas will look to continue that.

Andres (Junior) Arias- Dominican Republic
17 y.o / RHH / Outfielder

Arias was rumoured to be signing with the 2023 class but he was shifted to the Jays 2024 class. He is ranked #34 on MLB Pipeline and will receive the 2nd highest bonus in the Jays class per Baseball America's Ben Badler (Subscription Required). Arias is one of the most physically advanced players in all of International Free Agency as he is a bit older and stands at 6-foot-4 with lean strength and good athleticism. He has as close to plus raw power projection as you'll see in an international signing. His swing is lengthy and his approach is inconsistent which does lead to some hit tool concerns. There is risk here just like in any 16/17-year-old but Arias has the power that could be a carrying tool to MLB.

Arias' frame would suggest he'll end up in a corner outfield spot but internally the Blue Jays are optimistic that he has the straight-line speed to play center field.

"As this kid has gotten stronger and bigger, he's actually become faster and more explosive and has these really pretty long strides in the outfield. You're kind of like, ‘Oh man, this is a centre-fielder."

Andrew Tinnish via Shi Davidi

Angel Guzman- Dominican Republic
17 y.o / Switch / Shortstop

Guzman is the #32 ranked international prospect on MLB Pipeline and is expected to receive the 4th biggest bonus in the Jays class per Baseball America. He is the best contact hitter in the Jays class and shows above average bat to ball skills and a fluid swing from both sides of the plate. He has a strong feel for the barrel and uses the opposite field well for line drives and gap doubles. As Guzman has got stronger he has hit for more power. He's a bit undersized for a shortstop at just 5-foot-11 but he has the skills to play the position well. As long as his arm strength is there he'll likely stick at the position. If not, he could be an above average defender at second base.

Pascual Archila- Venezuela
16 y.o / LHH / Outfielder

Archila brings a high ability package to the table and is expected to receive the 3rd biggest bonus in the Jays class per Baseball America. He's a good hitter with impressive feel to hit and barrel control. He'll work tough at bats and make a good amount of contact thanks to a short and effective swing. Archila hasn't yet hit for home run power but like most players this age, he's only getting stronger. He defends well in the outfield and shows off good jumps and good reads.

Juarlin Soto- Dominican Republic
Age Unknown / LHH / Shortstop

Soto has a sweet lefty swing and the potential to play a middle infield spot long term. He has shown the ability to hit the ball hard in the air and as he gets stronger that may turn into more consistent home run power. He is expected to receive the 5th biggest bonus in the Jays class per Baseball America.

Esmeiquel Arrieche- Venezuela
Age Unknown / RHH / Catcher

Another Venezuelan catcher, Arrieche is actually the cousin of Gabriel Moreno. Nicknamed "El Explosivo", Arrieche has shown some pop from the right side. He participated in the U18 World Cup on behalf of Venezuela. He's an above average athlete especially for a catcher and has shown the ability to play on the infield similar to his cousin. He'll likely see time at both positions in the Dominican Summer League given that the top signing in the class (Rojas) is a catcher.

Javado (JT) Bain Jr.- The Bahamas
16 / RHH / Shortstop

Two things make Bain notable; his nationality and his athleticism. He's one of the top international signings from The Bahamas this year. Bain moves really well all over the diamond and has the speed and arm strength to play a premium defensive position as he gains more experience. He has a nice swing and quick hands but the professional climb for a Bahamian player tends to be steeper early on compared to a Dominican or Venezuelan. Bain will be one to closely monitor in the Dominican Summer League.

Endry Reyes- Dominican Republic
Age Unknown / RHH / Shortstop

Reyes is a lean 5-foot-10 middle infielder. He has a smooth swing and the bat speed for gap power.

Johandi Medina- Venezuela
Age Unknown / RHP / Starting Pitcher

At this time, Medina is the only confirmed pitcher in the class. The righty has a well-built frame for his age. The Jays will sign many other pitchers as they will need to fill out their Dominican Summer League roster.

These are the nine names that are publicly known (via Baseball America) to not only be signing with the Jays but signing in this class. I have a list of names from my own research and other sources that also appear to be signing with the Jays this year:

Randy Soto- Venezuela
Age Unknown / LHH / Catcher
Played in the U18 World Cup for Venezuela. Signing confirmed on Instagram by Badler of BA.

Likely Signings:

Wilmer Blanca- Venezuela
Age Unknown / RHH / Outfielder

Angel Vasquez- Panama
Age Unknown / RHP / Starting Pitcher

Pedro Tuzen- Dominican Republic
Age Unknown / RHP / Starting Pitcher
Low 90s fastball, high 70s gyro slider, big frame, long arm action.

Rafael De Jesus- Dominican Republic
Age Unknown / RHP / Starting Pitcher
Projectable righty with a good slider.

Julio Ozoria- Dominican Republic
Age Unknown / LHP / Starting Pitcher
Polish over power lefty arm.

There will be many more smaller signings that come in the coming weeks and months. It's important to remember that International Free Agency is unpredictable and the hit rate of prospects is low even compared to the MLB draft. The top players in the class may have the highest hit rate but it's not unusual that the best player in the class is relatively unknown at this point in time. International Free Agency is about getting talented young players in the pipeline and building a culture of development. The Blue Jays' significant investments in their development facilities are an indication that they're heading in the right direction.