Neivy Pilier, a 16-year-old third baseman from the Dominican Republic, has signed with the Nationals for $225,000.
At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Pilier has a quick bat with lift and occasional power in his righthanded swing, though he's at his best when he stays with a line-drive approach and uses the middle of the field. He has a strong arm that fits well at third base, though with his youth and size he's still trying to improve his footwork. Pilier didn't turn 16 until Aug. 1, so he was one of the younger players among those who became eligible to sign this year.
Pilier is from Santo Domingo, played in the Dominican Prospect League and trained with Christian Batista, who is known in the Dominican Republic as "Niche." Last year the Nationals awarded their top international bonus of the year ($150,000) to outfielder Randy Novas, who also trained with Batista. This year his program also produced Giants outfielder Gustavo Cabrera ($1.3 million) and Tigers shortstop Domingo Leyba ($400,000).
Anthony Alford, an outfielder in the Jays farm system and quarterback at Southern Miss, has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault according to the Sun Herald of Biloxi (Miss.). Alford and Korey Hathorn, another student, were arrested on campus after being involved in a fight on Wednesday.
Hathorn was charged with possession of a felony weapon on campus by a student. The altercation did not cause any injuries. The Sun Herald states that the incident happened around 11 a.m. and involved four people, two of whom were not students.
The Padres have signed four amateur prospects from Latin America, including 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Euri Minaya for $700,000.
Minaya, who is 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, projects as a right fielder, as his best tools are his righthanded raw power and arm strength. Several scouts leading up to July 2 had concerns about Minaya's propensity to swing and miss, particularly at breaking pitches, but Minaya impressed the Padres with his ability to make swing adjustments since then. Minaya, who had surgery to remove the hamate bone from his left hand in April 2011 and got back on the field last year in October, trained with Valentin Monero and was represented by Rob Plummer.
The Padres also signed Starling Ynfante, an 18-year-old Dominican righthander, for $200,000. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Ynfante's arm works well, his fastball sits in the low-90s with heavy action and has touched 94. He also throws a firm changeup with some promise and a curveball. Ynfante trained with Victor Baez and was represented by Jim Sanson and Luis Scheker.
A third Dominican prospect, Ronaldo Jose Contreras, signed with the Padres for $140,000. Contreras, 16, has started to fill out his athletic frame and is now 6-foot-3, 195 pounds with good bat speed and power potential from the right side, though some scouts have noted he has a tendency to lunge at the ball. He's a below-average runner with an average to a tick above-average arm that should allow him to play right field.
The Padres also signed Elys Ugueto, a Venezuelan shortstop with good hands and a slender 6-foot-1, 160-pound build. A righthanded hitter, Ugueto trained with Ciro Barrios and signed for $50,000.
San Diego's biggest international signing of the year came back on July 2, when the Padres signed Dominican third baseman Carlos Belen (the No. 8 prospect for July 2) for $1 million.
The Astros have made another addition to their staff, hiring Marc Russo as an international crosschecker, Baseball America has learned.
Russo had been the international scouting director for the Angels since November 2010, but he was not retained. Russo had helped rebuild the Angels' infrastructure in Latin America after the team fired former international director Clay Daniel shortly before July 2, 2009 and cleaned out their international scouting department. Oz Ocampo, who had worked as an international baseball operations specialist for Major League Baseball, was hired two months ago as Houston's international director.
Earlier today, BA reported that Carlos Gomez will run the international scouting in Anaheim.
The Angels have hired Carlos Gomez to run their international scouting, Baseball America has learned.
Gomez had been the international scouting director for the Diamondbacks the last two years after joining the organization as a pro scout following the 2007 season. Gomez had worked with Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto with the Diamondbacks when Dipoto was Arizona's vice president of scouting and player development. Gomez is Dipoto's first major hire on the international side since he took over as the Angels' general manager after the 2011 season. Marc Russo, the team's previous international scouting director, was not retained.
The Diamondbacks ranked 28th in Baseball America's international spending estimates in 2011, but they still landed a host of promising pitchers, including Venezuelan righthander Jesus Castillo for $250,000. Righthanders Jose Fermin, Erick Leal, Carlos Hernandez and lefthander Anfernee Bernitez all had impressive debuts this year in the Dominican Summer League.
Arizona was more aggressive with its spending since July 2 this summer, landing Dominican shortstop Sergio Alcantara (the No. 18 prospect available for July 2), as well as Dominican outfielder Ismael Pena, Colombian catcher Oswaldo Garcia, Dominican shortstop Fernery Ozuna and Venezuela outfielder Jose Ordaz.
Alberto Sanchez, a 16-year-old third baseman from the Dominican Republic, has signed with the Marlins for $85,000.
Sanchez, who is 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, was one of the more polished hitters in the Dominican Prospect League leading up to July 2 this year thanks to a sound righthanded swing. He has projectable power and projects to have a big, physical frame, though he's more of a line-drive hitter right now. He would need to put in a lot of work to stay at third base, so he may end up in left field. Sanchez trained in Santo Domingo with Maximo Rombley.
Note: The original story reported that Sanchez signed for $125,000. The story has been updated with his correct bonus information.
Johan Herrera, a 17-year-old third baseman from the Dominican Republic, has signed with the Pirates for $300,000.
Herrera, who is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, stands out for his lefthanded power. He has an average arm but his bat is ahead of his defense, so there's a chance he may end up changing positions. Herrera trained in Bani with his uncle, Juan Herrera, who is known in the Dominican Republic as "Mon," and was represented by Jim Sanson and former Red Sox scout Luis Scheker.
The Dodgers have made more changes to their international scouting department, most notably with today's hiring of Bob Engle as their vice president of international scouting.
Bob Elliot reported last night on Twitter that the Dodgers were going to hire Engle, whose contract with the Mariners as their vice president of international scouting ended yesterday.
Word in the industry is that there could be more major changes coming to the team's front office, but the team has already confirmed that Engle will bring aboard several of his former lieutenants with the Mariners to work for the Dodgers.
The move to the Dodgers reunites Engle with Patrick Guerrero, his Dominican-based Latin American coordinator with Seattle who was fired last month. The Dodgers have also hired Pedro Avila, the former Mariners scout who helped signed Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez when he was 16. Avila, who had since joined the Rangers' international scouting department, will become the Dodgers' new Venezuelan coordinator.
Three other scouts who had worked for Engle in Seattle will join his staff with the Dodgers. Pat Kelly is coming in as the team's Pacific Rim coordinator after holding the same title in Seattle. Jamie Storvick, who resides in Taiwan, will also be heavily involved in the team's Pacific Rim work. Gene Grimaldi will help lead the team's efforts in Europe. The Dodgers are also bringing in Mike Tosar, who had been out of baseball but also previously worked with Engle in Seattle, as a special assignment scout.
On Oct. 5, the Mariners issued a press release stating that Engle had decided to leave his post as the organization's vice president of international scouting when his contract expired. Having worked together in Seattle since 2000, Engle and Guerrero are close, and according to Baseball America's sources, the decision to fire Guerrero came from above Engle. Guerrero now holds the same title with the Dodgers, while Seattle hired Cubs West Coast crosschecker Tim Kissner as their new director of international operations. Emilio Carrasquel, Seattle's Venezuelan supervisor, will stay with the Mariners.
Since former general manager Pat Gillick hired Engle in January 2000, Engle helped the Mariners secure an impressive collection of international players, most notably Hernandez when he was 16 in 2002. Venezuelan shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, South Korean outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and Dominican righthander Michael Pineda were also among the players signed under Engle's watch.
Prior to joining the Mariners, Engle had worked for Gillick as the Blue Jays scouting director, where he had a hand in drafting three more Cy Young Award winners in Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter and Pat Hentgen. Engle has been involved in scouting for nearly 40 years since he began his career as a Midwest scouting supervisor for the Orioles in 1974.
The Mariners were one of the most aggressive spenders in the international market under Engle's watch, and it figures that will continue in Los Angeles with the Dodgers' new ownership. The Dodgers had previously been one of the most frugal teams internationally, ranking last in international amateur spending in 2011 at an estimated $177,000 after also spending the least of all 30 teams in 2010 at an estimated $314,000.
The Cardinals have signed Henry Alvarado, a 16-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic, for $150,000.
At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Alvarado stands out for his righthanded bat, sound approach and occasional power. His speed and arm strength profile best in left field, although first base may be another option. Alvarado trained with Felix Taveras.
Since July 2, the Cardinals have also signed Venezuelan catcher Joshua Lopez for $475,000, Panamanian shortstop Edmundo Sosa for $425,000, Venezuelan outfielder Luis Bandes for $350,000 and Nicaraguan righthander Ronald Medrano.
The Mariners have hired Tim Kissner as their new director of international operations, a baseball source confirmed.
Kissner had been with the Cubs for the past two seasons as the team's West Coast crosschecker. Before that, Kissner had scouted for the Phillies since November 2000, including a stint as the team's Pacific Rim coordinator beginning after the 2008 season through 2010. Kissner also had scouted the Northwest and Southern California for the Phillies after starting as an area scout in North Florida, Alabama and Mississippi for the Indians in 1999-2000.
Earlier this month, the Mariners announced that Bob Engle, their former vice president of international scouting, had decided to leave the organization. The Mariners had also fired Latin American coordinator Patrick Guerrero, who has since been hired by the Dodgers with the same title.
The Dodgers have hired Patrick Guerrero as their Latin American coordinator, according to a baseball source.
Guerrero, who lives in the Dominican Republic, will run the organization's scouting throughout Latin America. The Mariners had fired Guerrero as their Latin American coordinator earlier this month at the same time they announced that Bob Engle, their vice president of international scouting, had decided to leave the organization. Seattle's decision to fire Guerrero, according to Baseball America's sources, was made above Engle, an unusual move for a Latin American scout. Both Guerrero and Engle had been with the Mariners since 2000.
The Dodgers are still deciding whether to bring in someone else to serve as an international scouting director. The Dodgers have increased their international spending significantly since their new ownership group took over. Their biggest signing, a seven-year, $42 million contract for Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig shortly before the new rules on international spending kicked in on July 2, was widely viewed in international scouting circles as a colossal overpay.
Undeterred by Shohei Otani's public statements that he plans to sign with a Major League Baseball team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters drafted the Japanese high school righthander on Thursday. Righthander Shintaro Fujinami, the 18-year-old Japanese high school pitcher who some scouts prefer to Otani, went to the Hanshin Tigers.
Despite being drafted, Otani, 18, still has the option to sign with an MLB team instead. It's a situation that rarely comes up, as top Japanese high school pitchers typically stay in Japan and almost never sign directly with an MLB team. Fujinami is of course in the same situation, but sources have said he has told people that his preference is to stay in Japan.
The Brewers announced promotions for two staff members, including naming Manny Batista the organization's Latin America scouting director.
Batista, 51, joined the Brewers in 2010 and had coverage in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. He became Milwaukee's director of Venezuelan scouting following the 2011 season after the team reassigned Fernando Arango, who has since been let go, from Latin American coordinator to director of Dominican scouting.
Prior to joining the Brewers, Batista, who began scouting in 1982, had previously served as the Latin American coordinator for the Rangers from 1998-2009 and had also worked as an area scout in Puerto Rico for Texas. Batista will be in charge of scouting and re-staffing the team's scouting staff in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
The Brewers also announced that they have promoted Eduardo Brizuela to director of Latin America operations/scouting. Brizuela, 26, joined the Brewers in 2009 as an intern in advance scouting and has been the team's coordinator of administration. Brizuela helped the Brewers with their Dominican academy that opened in November 2011. He will take on additional scouting responsibilities and help the team's Latin American players transition to the United States.
“The promotions of Eduardo and Manny from our system and the restructuring of our scouting and operations in Latin America will serve notice that we are stepping up our involvement in Latin America,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said in a press release. “I have total confidence that with our presence at the Dominican Republic Academy in San Pedro de Macoris, the leadership of Eduardo and the multiple years of scouting experience that Manny brings, we will make strides in improving the signing of players for our system.”
The Mariners are making significant changes to their international program.
Longtime scout Bob Engle, the organization's vice president of international scouting, told the team he will depart when his contract expires Oct. 31. He said he was offered a contract extension but decided not to return, declining to comment further on the circumstances of his departure.
Seattle has also fired Patrick Guerrero, the team's Latin American coordinator and one of the most high-profile scouts based in the Dominican Republic. Industry sources say Engle regarded Guerrero as his right-hand man, and that the decision to fire Guerrero did not come from Engle but instead was made by someone above him in the organization, a rare occurrence for a Latin American scout.
Former Mariners general manager Pat Gillick hired Engle in January 2000. The team has netted a considerable amount of international talent during that time, including Felix Hernandez, Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo, among many others. Under Engle's watch, the Mariners were among the most aggressive teams not only in Latin America but all over the world. Prior to joining the Mariners, Engle worked for Gillick as a scouting director in Toronto, where he was involved in drafting Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter and Pat Hentgen, who like Hernandez all have won a Cy Young Award. He began his career as a Midwest scouting supervisor for the Orioles in 1974 and has earned respect across the industry for his scouting acumen.
Guerrero, who is named in honor of Gillick, has been with the Mariners since 2000, when he was hired by Gillick. Guerrero is the son of Epy Guerrero, the former Blue Jays Latin American coordinator while Gillick was Toronto's general manager. Patrick worked in Toronto in 1995, then followed Gillick to the Orioles from 1996-98 before returning to work for Engle in Toronto in 1999.
Under Guerrero's watch in the Dominican Republic, the Mariners signed righthander Michael Pineda, and Guerrero contributed to the club's scouting throughout Latin America. However, in recent years the team has had issues involving Dominican players. The Mariners signed Dominican shortstop Esteilon Peguero for $2.9 million in December 2009, then later reduced his bonus to $1.1 million for undisclosed reasons. The team was also ensnared in the age scandal involving George Soto, the son of prominent Dominican trainer Enrique Soto who used a false age four years younger than his real age to sign for $700,000 in 2007.
In May, the Mariners moved out of Epy Guerrero's complex and into a complex they share with the Dodgers. The team bought land and plans to build a new facility in the Dominican Republic.
“This was a very tough decision for me,” Engle said in a Mariners press release. “I have had a great time in Seattle and am proud to have served with so many fine people in the international department. I cannot thank the scouts and field personnel enough for their dedication and hard work.
“I have to thank (chairman and CEO) Howard (Lincoln) and (president) Chuck (Armstrong) as well as ownership and the many people behind the scenes who are never recognized for their efforts and support. In addition, I want to thank Pat Gillick, Bill Bavasi and Jack Zduriencik for allowing us to expand the international program since my arrival.
“This was a most difficult decision to make, and I am planning to take the remainder of October to spend time with my family and assess my future and if I want to retire or remain in the game.”
In the release, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said: “I want to thank Bob for all of his efforts on behalf of the Mariners. He and the international group that he led have done important work in identifying and signing players from around the world for the Mariners, including Felix Hernandez, Jose Lopez and many others that have made an impact on our major league roster.”
Armstrong added: "On behalf of the Mariners organization and myself, I would like to add my thanks for Bob for his work over the past 13 years. And on a personal note, I would like to thank Bob, and his wife Barbara, for both their friendship and the passion which Bob brought to his work.”
Update, 3:40 pm ET: Zduriencik e-mailed Baseball America and said that, per club policy, the club does not comment on personnel changes, but added: "We are thankful and appreciative of Patrick's efforts and contributions to the Seattle Mariners, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors."
The Angels have elected to not renew the contract of international scouting director Marc Russo, Baseball America has learned.
After working for the organization since 2001 as an East Coast crosschecker and then a major league scout, Russo took over international scouting responsibilities in November 2010. The Angels had fired their previous international director, Clay Daniel, shortly before July 2 in 2009, cleaned house of their international scouting department and essentially went dormant overseas for a year until Russo took over.
Other international directors around the game praised Russo for his work ethic in trying to rebuild the organization's international program from the ground up while working with minimal resources—the Angels ranked 24th in estimated international amateur spending last year and ranked 28th in 2010—and trying to build an international scouting staff from scratch.
Venezuelan shortstop Jose Rondon and Dominican righthander Arjenis Fernandez both drew attention this year in the Rookie-level Arizona League, while righthander Alfonso Alcantara signed touching 92-93 mph last year and ran his fastball up to 100 mph this year in the Dominican Summer League. The Angels reached the DSL championship series this year after winning the title in 2011.
It's not yet known who the Angels will hire to replace Russo in general manager Jerry Dipoto's first hire for the position.
The Brewers are not planning to renew the contract of Fernando Arango, who has been one of the team's top scouts in Latin America since 2003, according to a team source.
Arango joined the Brewers as an area scout in northern Florida in January 2003, then took over as the team's Latin American coordinator in November 2003. He served in that role until this past year, when the Brewers shifted his title to director of scouting for the Dominican Republic and put Manny Batista, a former Rangers scout, in charge of Venezuela. Batista is still with the Brewers, though the team has not made a decision yet on who will run its Latin American program.
The Brewers are looking for more production from their Latin American department. Over the last nine years, the organization has worked with a low-to-mid range budget in the international market, where their efforts have been almost exclusively focused in Latin America. The team also did not operate an academy to field a team in the Dominican Summer League until 2009, which meant they had to send all of their Latin American signings to the Rookie-level Arizona League to make their debuts.
Milwaukee's No. 1 prospect entering the season, righthander Wily Peralta, was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005 for $450,000, but he has struggled this year in Triple-A Nashville, particularly in the first half of the season. Righthander Santo Manzanillo, another power arm signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, has also had Tommy John surgery and had his career set back by injuries. Venezuelan shortstop Orlando Arcia, one of the top 20 prospects in the Dominican Summer League in 2011, hasn't played this year after breaking his right ankle on a slide during extended spring training. Amaurys Rivas, another Dominican righthander signed in 2005, is the only other international player who entered the season as one of Milwaukee's Top 30 prospects. Rivas also has had Tommy John surgery and is struggling in Triple-A.
Arango, whose contract ends at the end of the major league season, is a former Yankees and Devil Rays scout who famously walked away from his job as an area scout with Tampa Bay after the team refused to draft Albert Pujols.
Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar homered in his major league debut on Sunday, but that wasn't the only big day for the Profar family this week. The Rangers have also signed Profar's younger brother, Juremi Profar, a 16-year-old third baseman from Curacao.
At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Profar has the size, hands and arm strength to play third base, while showing flashes of power in games from the right side. He isn't as high-profile of a prospect as Jurickson Profar was when he signed with the Rangers for $1.55 million in 2009, but like his older brother, Juremi was also a standout at the Little League World Series. Profar was a shortstop and pitcher for Curacao's 2008 Little League World Series team that played in Williamsport, Pa. and reached the international semifinals, where he homered and struck out nine batters while allowing one earned over 4 2/3 innings in an 11-4 loss to Japan. Profar had homered twice in one of Curacao's previous games in Williamsport against Italty to help propel his team to the international semifinals. Profar also played on Curacao's 2007 Little League World Series team that reached the international championship game.
Profar will likely begin his career in the Dominican Summer League, where he'll probably be teammates with Dominican shortstop Luis Terrero, another international free agent the Rangers signed last week.
The Mariners have signed Leurys Vargas, a 16-year-old Dominican third baseman, for $400,000.
Vargas, the son of former big league lefthander Yorkis Perez, turned 16 yesterday but is already a physical 6-foot-3, 215 pounds. He stands out for his bat speed and raw power from the left side, though with his size he may end up moving over to first base.
Vargas played in the Dominican Prospect League and trained with Adolfo Frias, who is known as "Fifo." Frias also trained Mariners outfielder Julio Morban, who signed for $1.1 million with Seattle in 2008 and hit .313/.361/.550 in 76 games in high Class A High Desert in the California League this year.
Earlier this month, the Mariners also signed 16-year-old Brazilian lefthander Luiz Gohara, one of the top pitching prospects in this year's signing class.
The Rangers have signed Luis Terrero, a 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic.
Terrero, who is from Nizao, is 6 feet, 180 pounds with a strong, stocky build similar to a young Juan Uribe and has a solid righthanded bat. He's a solid runner, has good awareness in the field and has a chance to stay at shortstop, though with his build he may end up at second or third base. Terrero will likely begin his career next year in the Dominican Summer League. He trained at La Academia with Abel Guerra.
Major League Baseball has approved the $800,000 contract of Simon Mercedes, who made his pro debut yesterday in the Dominican Summer League.
Mercedes, 20, had originally signed with the Giants for $400,000 in 2011 using the same name and the same date of birth (Feb. 17, 1992) that he used to sign with the Red Sox, but his Giants contract was terminated and MLB declared him ineligible to sign for one year. MLB has not publicly stated the reason for the sanction against Mercedes, who recently received his visa to be able to come to the United States. MLB ruled his age undetermined, according to a source familiar with the situation, but the Red Sox decided to proceed with the contract.
Mercedes threw four shutout innings with four hits, two walks and four strikeouts yesterday in the DSL. At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Mercedes has run his fastball up to 96 mph and flashed an average to above-average breaking ball.
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