Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred reacts during the first round of the 2023 MLB Draft presented by Nike at Lumen Field on July 09, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
The 2023 Major League Baseball Draft saw 28 international-born players selected over the course of the draft’s 20 rounds.
Puerto Rico had the most players drafted with 10, Canada had nine, South Korea had three, and the Dominican Republic with two. A player born in Cuba, France, Japan, and Venezuela were drafted as well.
Players who live or attend an educational institution in the United States, Canada, or U.S. territory and have completed high school are eligible for the draft, as are players at four-year colleges who have completed their third year of school. Community and Junior College players are eligible to be drafted regardless of class year.
Two international-born players from the University of Oregon were selected, second baseman Rikku Nishida, who was born in Japan, and shortstop Sabin Saballos, who was born in Puerto Rico. A total of six international-born NCAA Division I players were picked, including second baseman Edrick Felix, a native of Puerto Rico out of Florida Gulf Coast University, Canadian-born right-handed pitcher Matt Duffy from Canisius College, South Korean-born third baseman Kevin Sim from the University of San Diego, and Canadian outfielder Pier-Olivier Boucher from Southern Illinois University.
Right-handed pitcher Mathias Lacombe from France is the 13th player from the country to sign a professional contract in a professional baseball league. Lacombe was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 12th round with the 359th overall pick.
Lacombe is the second-born player from France to be drafted in Major League Baseball and signed. The last player born from France to be drafted and signed with a Major League Baseball organization was Joris Berk, who was picked by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 19th round at the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft.
Lacombe played in the 2023 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in Regensburg, Germany, last September for France under Major League manager Bruce Bochy, pitching one inning in relief and allowing three hits, one earned run, one walk, and struck out two against World Baseball Classic Qualifier Great Britain.
South Korean third baseman Kevin Sim is the son of former Korea Baseball Organization league player Jong-Soo Shim, a Gold Glove outfielder who earned the nickname “Hercules” after hitting 328 home runs in 1,450 games with the Doosan Bears (1994-2000), Hyundai Unicorns (2001-2004) and Samsung Lions (2005-2008).
During the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft, 36 international-born players were selected: 15 players from Canada, 11 from Puerto Rico, three from the Dominican Republic, and two from Venezuela. Taiwan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Iceland, and Cuba each had one born player drafted in 2022, along with a total of 11 international players that were selected to NCAA Division I programs.
The Major League International Signing Period runs from January 15 until December 15. A player that is listed eligible has to be 16 before he signs and be 17 before Sept. 1 Players have to be born between September 1, 2006, and August 31, 2007 to be eligible to sign in the upcoming signing period and be registered with Major League Baseball inorder to sign with any of the 30 organizations.
At the start of the 2023 Major League Baseball regular season, 19 different countries were represented by 269 international-born players on the active rosters of all 30 organizations. There have only been two years where more international-born players were on opening day rosters season since MLB started releasing annual data in 1995.
In 2020, Major League Baseball had 291 international-born players because of the expanded 30-man rosters in the COVID-19 Pandemic-shortened season, and 2022, when 275 international born players were on the 28-man rosters.
2023 Major League Baseball Draft International Born Players
Kevin Sim – 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks (Round 5, No. 148 overall, University of San Diego)
Wooyeoul Shin – 1B, Tampa Bay Rays (Round 16, No. 483 overall, Miami Dade College)
B.Y. Choi – SS, San Diego Padres (Round 20, No. 611 overall, New Mexico Military Institute)
John Valle – RHP, New York Mets (Round 14, No. 426 overall, Jefferson HS, Tampa, Fla.)
Mathias LaCombe – RHP, Chicago White Sox (Round 12, No. 359 overall, Cochise College)
Rikuu Nishida – 2B, Chicago White Sox (Round 11, No. 329 overall, University of Oregon)
Nehomar Ochoa Jr. – OF, Houston Astros (Round 11, No. 344 overall, Galena Park HS, Galena Park, Texas)
Jatnk Diaz – RHP, Detroit Tigers (Round 8, No. 230 overall, Hazleton Area HS, Hazle Township, Penn.)
Raudi Rodriguez – OF, Los Angeles Angels (Round 19, No. 564 overall, Georgia Premier Academy, Statesboro, Ga.)
Sabin Ceballos – SS, Atlanta Braves (Round 3, No. 94 overall, University of Oregon)
Quincy Scott – OF, San Diego Padres (Round 3, No. 96 overall, Anita Otero Hernandez High School, Humacao, Puerto Rico)
Bryan Gonzalez – SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (Round 6, No. 190 overall, Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy Florida, Puerto Rico)
Yahil Melendez – SS, Chicago Cubs (Round 7, No. 206 overall, B You Academy, Caguas, Puerto Rico)
Jose Ortiz – OF, San Francisco Giants (Round 13, No. 390 overall, Leadership Christian Academy, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico)
Edrick Felix -2B, Chicago White Sox (Round 14, No. 419 overall, Florida Gulf Coast University)
John Lopez – C, Pittsburgh Pirates (Round 15, No. 437 overall, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, Puerto Rico)
JeanPierre Ortiz – TWP, Cincinnati Reds (Round 17, No. 498 overall, Chipola College, Marianna, Fla.)
Wilson Rodriguez – OF, New York Yankees )Round 17, No. 522 overall, Academia Presbiteriana, Carolina, Puerto Rico)
Yanzel Correa – RHP, Colorado Rockies (Round 18, No. 532 overall, International Baseball Academy, Fajardo, Puerto Rico)
Myles Naylor – 3B, Oakland Athletics (Round 39 Competitive-Balance A, St Joan of Arc Secondary School, Mississauga, Ontario)
Matt Duffy – RHP, Boston Red Sox (Round 4, No. 115 overall, Canisius College)
Connor O’Halloran – LHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Round 5, No. 157 overall, University of Michigan)
Sam Shaw – OF, Toronto Blue Jays (Round 9, No. 274 overall, Lambrick Park Secondary School, Saanich, British Columbia)
Avery Owusu-Asiedu -OF, Philadelphia Phillies (Round 9, No. 283 overall, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville)
Matt Wilkinson – LHP, Cleveland Guardians (Round 10, No. 308 overall, Central Arizona College)
Pier-Olivier Boucher – OF, Atlanta Braves (Round 10, No. 309 overall, Southern Illinois University)
Brady Cerkownyk – C, Detroit Tigers, Round 15, No. 440 overall, Connors State College, Warner, Okla.)
Jeremy Pilon – LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Round 18, No. 543 overall, École Secondaire du Chêne-Bleu, Pincourt, Quebec)