For Latino prospects, January 15 is probably the most important date on the calendar.
It’s the moment at which MLB teams can sign international free agents, provided they are at least 16 years old.
When these prospects reach that age, they become eligible to sign and receive a bonus.
From the time they are little kids, these young prospects are playing against top competition in their age group in a set of tournaments organized by scouts or their own academy.
They train hard every day to improve their hitting, to become more powerful, and to hone their skills hoping to impress scouts of MLB teams.
Pitchers try to gain more velocity and sharpen their breaking balls, all of this while showing they have good enough command.
Hitters focus on batting, but also work on speed drills, fielding, and strengthening their throwing arm.
These academies work with these prospects for years, hoping to get that contract with an MLB organization to pursue their dream of becoming major leaguers.
This is how they react:
This is how these baseball prospects reacted when they received the news that they would be signed to one of the MLB teams. pic.twitter.com/BsvBrNZli4
— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) January 18, 2023
Getting that signature is the result of years of work and support of coaches, trainers, and the kids’ parents and families.
That’s why it’s such a touching moment when they get the news.
There are usually tears of joy involved, and it’s only natural.
However, these kids (and their coaches) need to convince themselves that signing is not the culmination of the work: it’s just the beginning.
Only a portion of the young prospects that sign on January 15 make the majors; even fewer will establish themselves there, and three or four become stars.
Without work and discipline, talent is next to worthless.
Understanding that, they have every right in the world to dream big.