Create Account
Sign in Create Account
PG Select Baseball Festival  | General  | 1/16/2023

Festival Alums Ink Contracts

Jheremy Brown     
Photo: Luis Almeyda, Ethan Salas, Angel Cepeda
January 15, 2022 marked the opening day for the international signing period, meaning a whole new crop of prospects from abroad were set to make a splash for all 30 big league organizations. With international stars attending Perfect Games events over the years in the likes of Boston Red Sox slugger Rafael Devers and Cuban right-hander Yasiel Sierra who signed a 6 year, $30 million contact in 2016 following an outing at the WWBA World Championship, to some more recent names since the first pitch of the PG Select Festival back in 2016, we've see some electric young prospects at the early stages of their national exposure and that was certainly the case back in 2020 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

You can follow the link for more on the international history within Perfect Game: PG's International Platform.

Given the rules and regulations set in place throughout the country following quarantine, the 13u and 14u Select Festival, as well as the PG All-American Classic, were held in succession over the course on an elongated weekend which gave baseball fans and scouts alike a true look at the future of the game with some of the best 2021, 2024 and 2025 graduates the country had to offer, as well as a couple potential international free agent signing in a couple years time. Well, the calendar has flipped through enough and the time has come for two of those 13u players and one 14u player to put their name on the dotted line and sign their first professional contracts. 

Teammates on the East team in the second ever 13u Select Festival, Venezuelan backstop Ethan Salas and shortstop Luis Ayden Almeyda, who at the time was a resident of New Jersey prior to moving to the Dominican where he trained and ultimately signed out of, both ranked amongst the best prospects in attendance and you truly didn't have to project all that hard to see what the ultimate ceiling may just be. 

The younger brother of Miami Marlins top prospect and 14u National Showcase alum Jose Salas, Ethan was a clear standout at the inaugural 13u National Showcase where everything he did was refined, from the catch and throw skills that have him regarded as one of the top catching prospects in recent memory, to his left-handed swing with burgeoning power and the overall way in which he approaches the game given his age at the time. His showing in Oklahoma City was no different as he continues to swing the bat well, showing a smooth and fluid stroke which translated into live action as he barreled a triple into the pull side corner. And of course everything he did on the defensive side of the ball lived up to what we had come to expect, setting the bar for what an elite defender at that age looked like which still holds true in his skillset present day. The consensus top prospect in this year's international class, Salas signed with the San Diego Padres Sunday afternoon for a reports $5.6 million. 

Almeyda's case coming into the Festival was a little different as he had been living in New Jersey and was a regular face on the national circuit that summer, attending all the major events (which included the 13u National Showcase) and was continuously a name you walked away wanting to see more of. He debuted at No. 4 in the class and safely sat in the top 10 until his move to the Dominican, brining with him the 13u Rawlings Defensive Player of the Year hardware which he was awarded for his defensive acumen during the Festival. A long and strong shortstop, Almeyda has continued to grow into his very real power and though it's one area of his game that had always been prevalent, so too has his defense in the dirt which was almost impossible to ignore. His internal, in game notes from the National Showcase paint the perfect picture: "Plus instincts on defense, reads and gets + jumps, likes to play and is in the game, type who wants every ball hit at him". Ranked as a top 20 prospect in this year's class, Almeyda signed for an Orioles franchise record for an international prospect at $2.3 million. 

Similarly to Almeyda, Angel Cepeda lived in New Jersey at the time of the 14u Select Festival and played in the major national circuit events, drawing interesting from Power 5 programs, prior to his move to the Dominican which allowed for him to sign this past weekend, ultimately with the Chicago Cubs for $1 million. Even at 14 years old Cepeda sported advanced physical strength which translated into some of the better bat speed in attendance, barreling baseballs with authority to all parts of the field on a rather consistent basis. His round of batting practice drew remarks like "serious juice and bat speed" and "ball comes off differently" and those incapsulated what he brings to the offensive side of the ball rather. He's was just as intriguing in the dirt given the fluidity and overall footwork in his defensive actions as well as the bazooka of a right arm he possessed, all of which led him to a top 15 national ranking at the time of the Festival and shortly thereafter. 

A lot can change over the course of two years as players are constantly evolving, both physically and from a skills perspective, but even at 13 and 14 years old, the skill of this trio of prospects was hard to miss, hence their spots in the Select Festival. A fourth member of the 2020 family of games, Venezuelan infielder Jose Perdomo (13u Select Festival) is already being tabbed as one of the top international prospects for the 2024 class, a year in which we should hear the name of a few 14u alums hear their names called in the first round.