International Showcase next week in Dominican

International Showcase next week in Dominican

Prospects from seven Latin American countries eligible to sign with Major League clubs during the 2016 international signing period will strut their stuff during next week's 5th Annual International Showcase.

Workouts and scrimmage games will be part of the two-day event hosted by MLB on Wednesday and Thursday at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

A total of 59 players will participate in drills and games in front of hordes of scouts. The seven represented countries, a record number for the event, include Colombia, Curaҫao, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela.

All the players will be 16 when the international signing period begins on July 2, reflecting rules for signing. Many of them will participate as 15-year-olds in the showcase, making it their first exposure to such a highly organized event. High-ranking baseball officials from the represented countries will also be on hand, making it an important bridge for international baseball relations.

Kim Ng, MLB's senior vice president of baseball operations, focused on the value of the exposure, both for players and administrators, at last year's Showcase, in the same location.

"They are here in order to show them what an event like this looks like, and hopefully create something they can aspire to and do," Ng had said. "We want to engage them and find out how we can help them in different areas, whether that's helping to provide more playing opportunities or helping to provide more infrastructure in terms of instruction. We want to help them connect with baseball evaluators to get their players signed. We are trying to grow the game."

Players from the host Dominican Republic and from Venezuela dominate Showcase rosters, split into Red and Blue teams for scrimmage purposes.

Twenty-six of the 29 players on the Red roster are Dominicans. The Blue team's 30-man roster includes 26 from Venezuela, among them Kevin Maitan, a 15-year-old shortstop regarded as the hottest international prospect since Miguel Sano.

Sano signed with the Twins in 2009, two months past his 16th birthday, and he made his MLB debut last July 2 -- ironically, on the start of the 2015 signing period -- and went on to collect 18 homers and 52 RBIs in 80 games.

The guidelines for signing a prospect: A 16-year-old international player can sign during the period that extends from July 2 through June 15 of next year if the prospect turns 17 before Sept. 1 of this year or by the completion of his first Minor League season.

Additionally, any prospect that is already 17 or older and has not previously signed a Major League or Minor League contract, resides outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and has not been enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico within the previous year is eligible to sign during the period.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.