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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats sign 20 international free agents; Fausto Severino on 2024 class...

Notes and quotes on the Nationals’ 2024 international signings...

MLB Pipeline ranked 16-year-old, 6’3’’, 175-pound outfielder Victor Hurtado (Sabana Perdida, Dominican Republic) 20th overall on their list of 2024’s top international prospects.

Angel Feliz, a 6’3’’, 185-pound shortstop out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was No. 23 on MLB Pipeline’s list.

Baseball America, the Washington Nationals noted after they signed Hurtado ($2.8M acc. to reports) and Feliz ($1.7M) this week, had the left-handed hitting and throwing outfielder at 7, and the right-handed infielder at No. 16.

Those two were the marquee names in the Nats’ 2024 International Free Agent class, but 20 total players signed on with the organization.

In 2023, they signed 14 players. In 2022 it was 10. They signed 10 in 2021 as well. In years past, MASN’s Mark Zuckerman noted on Twitter, it tended to be a few big deals, and then smaller deals with smaller pools of players.

Why was it a different approach this time?

“Each year is different,” Fausto Severino, the recently-promoted Director of International Operations told reporters earlier this week when asked about the club’s approach to the signing period this winter.

“You have a different plan of attack for each year. This year, we got Hurtado and Feliz, and as time went on we could attack some of those other players. A lot of the kids in this market are very young, and you end up getting a lot of late bloomers, kids that come out later that we really liked and pursued them. That’s kind of like our mentality — is always try to get the best players. And we had the budget for it, so we went and got some guys aside from those two prospects.”

But those top two prospects, Hurtado and Feliz, are impressive.

“Hurtado’s got a sweet, left-handed stroke. He’s a very projectable frame,” Severino said.

“He’s a kid that, as soon as we saw him, we fell in love with. He did everything with ease. As far as upside, he’s someone that we’re projecting to hit in the middle of the lineup when it’s all said and done, and someone who can actually play the field.

“A kid that works very hard, unbelievable makeup and flair. He’s kid that carries himself with a lot of confidence, and we like that a lot about him.

“So those are some of the main traits that we saw that made us go after him.”

“Feliz is actually the same kind of body [as Hurtado], very projectable,” Severino continued.

“He’s got a very advanced approach at the plate, hitting ability, but he’s also got the ability to hit for power. And for being a big kid, he can really play shortstop. He’s a kid that at the beginning we were kind of — Is he going to play there [at shortstop]? Is he going to play third base? But the more I saw him play, and at least myself, the more I saw him play, he made all the plays— routine and difficult plays. He’s got a strong arm. He’s somebody that’s a leader that’s got unbelievable makeup also, and comes from a program that’s very competitive that we’ve seen in different tournaments. And he just carries himself with a lot of class.”

As for the draft class as a whole, Severino said, “We’re excited.”

“We have guys that we think can impact the organization,” he added, “... both offensively, and in the pitching side, and we obviously got two players that are in the top 50 prospects in most [of the] major publications, but aside from them I think we’ve got a good group of guys.”