Detroit Tigers sign international prospects Cristian Santana, Abel Bastidas

Detroit Free Press

Evan Petzold
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Tigers began the 2021 international signing period by adding two 17-year-old shortstops: Cristian Santana and Abel Bastidas.

A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the Free Press on Friday morning that Santana has inked a deal with a $2.95 million signing bonus, but Bastidas — while expected to sign soon — has not officially agreed to terms.

However, Bastidas is slated to sign with the Tigers for a $1.175 million bonus, according to MLB’s Jesse Sanchez. Santana is ranked as the No. 14 prospect by MLB Pipeline in this year’s international class; Bastidas is No. 27.

Also, the Tigers announced Cuban outfielder Carlos Pelegrin signed. The 20-year-old played on the Cuban National Team in 2018 and has played in the under-23, under-18 and under-16 leagues in his native country. The terms of his contract are unknown. He is not ranked on the top 30 list of international prospects.

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Because they got a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B in the 2020 MLB draft, the Tigers received a pool of $6.431 million to spend on this year’s international market. The signing period was supposed to start July 2, 2020, but it was pushed back to Friday because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The signing period is open until Dec. 15, 2021.

Santana is a 6-foot, 165-pound right-handed hitter from Azuna, Dominican Republic. His $2.95 million signing bonus is a franchise record, snapping the $2.85 million Roberto Campos received in July 2019.

He is the cousin of Tigers infield prospect Wenceel Perez, the team’s No. 14 prospect who hit .233 during the 2019 season in West Michigan. Perez signed for a $550,000 bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2016.

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“Think of a young and developing Jhonny Peralta,” MLB Pipeline’s report on Santana reads, adding he works out with Washington Nationals star Juan Soto in the offseason. “Evaluators believe Santana can be that type of player one day, only with a chance to be better.” Peralta spent 15 years in the majors, including four years (2010-13) with the Tigers. He is a career .267 hitter with 202 home runs.

Bastidas, a switch-hitter, is 6-foot-2, 160 pounds and trains with former MLB infielders Cesar and Maicer Izturis. The brothers, now retired from the majors, combined for 2,219 games in their careers.

“He compares physically to a young Carlos Guillen, when Guillen made his debut in 1998,” MLB Pipeline’s report on Bastidas reads. Guillen played eight years for the Tigers, from 2004-2011, and hit .285 during his 14-year career.

After inking Santana and Bastidas, the Tigers have $2.306 million remaining. With some of that money, they’re expected to sign right-hander Rayner Castillo from the Dominican Republic, according to Baseball America. Additional targets include shortstop Yimmy Diaz (Venezuela), outfielder Elian Riera (Venezuela), shortstop Jensy de Leon (Dominican Republic).

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On the 20-80 scouting scale, Santana is at 55 with his hitting, power and defense. He has 50 arm strength, and his running is graded at 45. 

“Santana has the five-tool potential with a chance to have plus tools across the board,” according to MLB Pipeline’s report. “He shows above-average bat speed and good balance in the box. He has an advanced approach for a prospect his age and impressive pitch recognition with a knack for hitting breaking balls. He also shows some raw power now and it has a chance to develop into a plus tool in the future.”

Bastidas doesn’t have a grade below 50. He enters his professional career with 55s in defense, arm strength and running, while his hitting and power are graded at 50.

“There are plenty of reasons evaluators believe Bastidas will play in the major leagues one day in the not-so-distant future,” according to MLB Pipeline’s report. “First of all, Bastidas has a chance to be a plus, plus defender and can probably hold his own in the lower levels of the minor leagues right now. He’s smooth, some say like a young Omar Vizquel, with soft hands, quick feet, plus arm potential and extreme accuracy.”

This story will be updated.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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