The Diamondbacks have signed Ismael Pena, a corner outfielder from the Dominican Republic.
Pena, 16, was born in Canada but moved to the Dominican Republic within the last few years. He's a 6-foot-3, 175-pound lefty with a sound swing, a good approach and a hit-first, power-second profile. He's an average runner with a 45 to 50 arm on the 20-80 scale.
Arizona has shown an increased presence internationally during the 2012-13 international signing period, which began on July 2. The Diamondbacks also signed 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Sergio Alcantara (the No. 18 international prospect), Colombian catcher Osvaldo Garcia and Dominican shortstop Fernery Ozuna.
The White Sox have agreed to terms with Dominican corner outfielder Hanlet Otano.
Otano, who turned 16 on Monday, stands out for his size (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) and raw power from the right side. The White Sox have been much busier than usual during the international signing period, which opened on July 2. The White Sox also agreed to terms with Dominican third baseman Luis Castillo for $450,000 and Dominican shortstop Johan Cruz.
Luis Castillo, a third baseman from the Dominican Republic, has agreed to sign with the White Sox for $450,000.
Castillo, 16, is 6-foot-2, 205 pounds with a sound righthanded swing and plus power. Castillo played in the Dominican Prospect League and trained with Carlos Hernandez, who is known as "Cambo."
Earlier this month the White Sox also signed 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Johan Cruz, who some scouts considered one of the better shortstops on the island for July 2.
Dominican shortstop Sergio Alcantara, the No. 18 international prospect for July 2, has signed with the Diamondbacks.
Alcantara, who is 5-foot-11, 155 pounds, turned 16 on July 10. He's a switch-hitter with smooth hands, a plus arm and good instincts, which is why some teams considered him one of the best defensive shortstops in Latin America. He is the nephew of former big leaguer Anderson Hernandez, a 29-year-old second baseman now with the Pirates in Triple-A.
Baseball America subscribers can read a complete scouting report on Alcantara.
See also: Top 20 International Prospects Tracker.
The Orioles have signed Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia to a minor league contract with a bonus of $778,500.
Since Urrutia turned 25 in February and has played at least three seasons in Cuba's top league, his bonus will not count against Baltimore's $2.9 million bonus pool for the 2012-13 international signing period.
Here is Baseball America's scouting report on Urrutia from January:
"Urrutia, 24, is the son of Ermidelio Urrutia, a former Cuban national team outfielder who played in the 1992 Olympics and several other international competitions. From 2006-2010, Ermidelio was a manager in Serie Nacional for Las Tunas, the team Henry played for from his debut season in 2005-06 until his final season in 2009-10. Henry Urrutia batted .397/.461/.597 in 305 at-bats with 12 home runs and more walks (32) than strikeouts (23) his last year in Cuba, tying for ninth in the league in OBP.
A 6-foot-3, 180-pound switch-hitter, Urrutia is a corner outfielder with a solid, level stroke that produces line drives, with a better swing plane from the left side. He has solid bat-to-ball ability and average power. While there's not much projection remaining, Urrutia's body does have some room to fill out, so he could add more pop, but he doesn't have prototypical power for a corner outfielder. He's a good athlete for a corner outfielder and just around an average runner. He could begin his career in Double-A."
Urrutia was represented by Bart Hernandez.
The Pirates have signed Dominican center fielder Michael de la Cruz for $700,000.
The bonus came as a surprise to some teams. De la Cruz, who turned 16 yesterday, is a lefty with a lean, medium frame at 6 feet, 175 pounds. De la Cruz ran average times in the 60-yard dash earlier in the year but he cut his time down to 6.7 seconds in recent months (though not showing that well home to first) for other teams and ran close to 6.5 seconds for the Pirates. Scouts have said de la Cruz gets good jumps off the bat and shows good instincts in center field. The Pirates have called his arm above-average, though other teams before July 2 graded his arm out at a 45-50 on the 20-80 scale with a long, slow release.
At the plate, de la Cruz has a wide setup and a quick, handsy swing, though he doesn't have much power right now. He is from Santo Domingo and trained with Raul Valera, who is known in the Dominican Republic as "Banana." Last year Valera's shortstop, Eliezer Alvarez, signed with the Cardinals for $425,000 when Pirates Latin American supervisor Juan Mercado was with St. Louis.
When the international signing period opened last week, the Pirates also signed Dominican third baseman Julio de la Cruz (no relation to Michael), the No. 16 international prospect for July 2, for $700,000.
The Blue Jays were among the most aggressive teams when the international signing period opened on July 2, signing three of the top 20 international prospects to put them slightly over their $2.9 million international bonus pool.
Toronto signed Venezuelan shortstop Franklin Barreto ($1.45 million), Venezuelan shortstop Luis Castro ($800,000) and Dominican shortstop Richard Urena ($725,000), putting their international amateur spending for the 2012-13 signing period at $2,975,000. That means the Blue Jays are 2.6 percent over their international bonus pool, so for their $75,000 overage they will have to pay a 75 percent tax, which comes to $56,250.
The Blue Jays won't face any penalties beyond the tax unless they choose to spend more than five percent above the $2.9 million pool ($3,045,000), after which they would have to pay a 75 percent tax on the overage and would be prohibited from signing more than one player for a bonus greater than $500,000 during the 2013-14 international signing period that begins next year on July 2.
While the Blue Jays are probably done for the next 11 months in terms of six-figure international amateur signings, the Collective Bargaining Agreement does have some exemptions that will allow them to still sign players without having to face any further penalties. Each club gets six exemptions on signings of up to $50,000, so the Blue Jays still have up to $300,000 to spread across six players if they want for the rest of the signing period. Teams can also sign unlimited players for $7,500 or less and they won't count against their pool space.
During the 2011 calendar year, the Blue Jays ranked second in international amateur spending with estimated bonus expenditures of $7.57 million.
The Diamondbacks have signed catcher Oswaldo Garcia, a player some scouts considered the top prospect this year from Colombia.
Garcia, 16, has a large frame (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) and offers intriguing power from the right side. Garcia is a former pitcher with a strong arm, though as a bigger catcher he will have to continue working on his lateral agility behind the plate.
"The tools are there," said one scout. "He's going to be a guy who, in the next two years, you might have a a really good guy behind the plate with a chance to hit for power. It's a good swing and he hits in games. He's pretty good."
Arizona also signed Fernery Ozuna, a 16-year-old Dominican shortstop. At 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, Ozuna is undersized but he's a switch-hitter who is better from the left side and shows sneaky power. He's not a burner but he's a high-energy player with good instincts who flashes an above-average arm.
The Royals have signed a pair of 16-year-old Venezuelan pitchers, righthander Julio Pinto and lefthander Junior Reyes.
Pinto, who signed for $375,000, is a projection arm who throws 88-92 mph with developing secondary stuff that includes a curveball and a changeup. He trained with Luis Blasini, who also represented Samir Duenez, the third baseman the Royals signed for $425,000. Pinto and Duenez both also traveled to the Dominican Republic last month for the Dominican Prospect League's Perfect Game International Series, where Pinto was named the pitching MVP during the showcase's all-tournament game.
Reyes, who signed for $155,000, is 5-foot-11, 165 pounds and has good control of an 87-89 mph fastball. He doesn't throw as hard as Pinto but he has earned praise from scouts for his pitchability. He trained with Alex Quiroz.
Venezuelan lefthander Jose Castillo, a 16-year-old who ranks as the sixth-best international prospect for July 2, has signed with the Rays for $1.55 million. The bonus is a record for a Venezuelan amateur lefthander, eclipsing the $1.5 million the Rangers spent on Yohander Mendez last year on July 2.
Castillo is 6-foot-4, 200 pounds and has impressed scouts with his delivery and power arm. He is represented by Felix Olivo, who also has represented Mariners catcher Jesus Montero and Rangers lefthander Martin Perez since they were amateurs. Baseball America subscribers can read Castillo’s complete scouting report.
Castillo is the third Top 20 international prospect for July 2 the Rays have signed since the international signing period opened on Monday. The Rays also signed Venezuelan righthander Jose Mujica, the No. 3 international prospect, for $1 million. He and Castillo were the two best pitchers available in Latin America. The Rays also agreed to a deal with Venezuelan catcher David Rodriguez, the No. 14 international prospect, who along with Mujica also trained at the academy run by former major leaguer Carlos Guillen.
Castillo's bonus so far is the second-highest confirmed bonus among July 2 prospects, behind only Dominican shortstop Amed Rosario ($1.75 million to the Mets).
See also: Top 20 International Prospects Tracker
Wendell Rijo, the No. 10 international prospect for July 2, has signed with the Red Sox for $575,000, according to an announcement from the Dominican Prospect League.
Rijo, a 16-year-old righthanded hitter, is around 5-foot-11, 195 pounds and is one of the more polished baseball players in the Dominican Republic. He trained with Victor Brus and played in the DPL, although he’s been out of action since he injured his knee during the DPL’s spring training tour in the United States in March. Two sources have told BA that Rijo has a torn ACL, which appears to have affected his market.
Baseball America subscribers can read Rijo’s complete scouting report. When the international signing period opened on Monday, the Red Sox also signed Dominican righthander Jose Almonte, the No. 17 international prospect, for $610,000.
See also: Top 20 International Prospects Tracker
Update: The original story reported that Rijo signed for $625,000. His bonus is $575,000, plus a $50,000 scholarship package for college. Only the bonus will count against Boston's international bonus pool.
The Royals have signed Venezuelan third baseman Samir Dueñez for $425,000.
Dueñez, a 16-year-old lefthanded hitter, stood out last winter while playing in the Liga Paralela, the minor league version of the Venezuelan League. He led his Navegantes club in batting average by hitting .313/.329/.448 in 19 games over 67 at-bats with six doubles, a home run, two walks and 13 strikeouts. He also generated attention last month when he made spent time playing in the Dominican Prospect League. He's listed at 6-foot-1, 196 pounds and has flashed projectable power as well.
Baseball America subscribers can read a longer scouting report on Dueñez.
The Rockies have signed Luis Guzman, a lefthander from Venezuela.
Guzman, 16, is a strike-thrower with a fastball in the mid-to-high 80s. Guzman has also shown feel for his secondary stuff, including a quality curveball.
The White Sox have agreed to terms with Johan Cruz, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic.
Cruz, 16, is 6-foot-1, 175 pounds and has stood out in the field with good hands, footwork and arm strength. He's a righthanded hitter from Puerto Plata who trained with Victor Baez.
Baseball America subscribers can read a longer scouting report on Cruz.
Richard Urena, a Dominican shortstop and the No. 13 international prospect for July 2, has signed with the Blue Jays.
Urena, 16, is 6-foot-1, 160 pounds and projects to stick at shortstop with a line-drive bat from the left side. He played in the Dominican Prospect League and trained with Corporan Decarte.
Baseball America subscribers can read Urena’s complete scouting report. Yesterday the Blue Jays added the top international prospect, Venezuelan shortstop/center fielder Franklin Barreto, as well as the No. 9 international prospect, Venezuelan shortstop Luis Castro.
The Athletics have signed Dominican outfielder Luis Barrera for $450,000.
Barrera, 16, is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and has one of the smoother lefthanded swings in this year's July 2 class. He most likely profiles in either left field or at first base. Barrera played in the Dominican Prospect League and trained with Quico Pena.
Baseball America subscribers can read a complete scouting report on Barrera.
The Indians have signed Dominican corner outfielder Hector Caro for $1.1 million.
Cleveland appears to have strayed significantly from the industry consensus in its evaluation of Caro, a player several teams did not consider to be one of the top prospects in Latin America and was not ranked among the Top 20 international prospects for July 2. While Caro's bonus is surprising based on his scouting reports from several organizations, sources had told Baseball America before July 2 that the Indians were expected to give him a seven-figure bonus.
Caro, a 16-year-old righthanded hitter, has a projectable 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame and has flashed raw power in batting practice, but his swing will need improvement and he's had trouble hitting in games. His speed and arm strength will likely limit him to left field. Caro trained with Ivan Noboa, who last year pulled off a $4.95 million bonus for Nomar Mazara with the Rangers in another deal that few in the industry felt was commensurate with his talent level.
Dominican third baseman Julio de la Cruz has signed with the Pirates for $700,000.
De la Cruz, the No. 16 international prospect for July 2, is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and has impressed some scouts with his feel for hitting from the right side. De la Cruz, 16, played in the Dominican Prospect League and trained with former major league outfielder Luis Polonia.
Baseball America subscribers can read a complete scouting report on de la Cruz.
The Twins have agreed to sign Lewis Thorpe, a lefthander from Australia.
Several teams considered Thorpe, 16, the top prospect in Australia for July 2. Thorpe pitched in the 16-and-under World Championship in Mexico last August and in the MLB Australian Academy last year, when he had a 3.90 ERA in 30 innings with 37 strikeouts and 15 walks. He's 6 feet, 175 pounds with good feel for pitching, a fastball that sits 86-88 mph and has topped out at 91 along with feel to spin a breaking ball.
Yesterday the Twins also signed Dominican shortstop Amaurys Minier for $1.4 million.
The Indians have signed Dominican shortstop Grofy Cruz for $400,000.
Cruz, a 16-year-old righthanded hitter, is 6-foot-4, 195 pounds and flashes solid raw power and arm strength, though he should move over to third base quickly and will have to continue to make progress in the field. Cruz trained at La Academia.
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