After months of rumors, the deal is finally done: Rafael Rodriguez is a San Francisco Giant.
Rodriguez, an outfielder from the Bani in the Dominican Republic, signed yesterday (his 16th birthday) for a $2.55 million bonus, the largest bonus ever for a Latin American hitter, excluding Cuban defectors.
|A NEW LEADER|
|Michel Inoa moves to the top of the class of international signings after the Athletics inked the 16-year-old Dominican Republic righthander for a record $4.25 million. Below is a list of the top all-time international signing bonuses.|
|Year||Player, Pos., Team||Signing Bonus|
|2008||Michel Inoa, rhp, Athletics||$4.25 million|
|2008||Rafael Rodriguez, of, Giants||$2.55 million|
|1999||Wily Mo Pena, of, Yankees||$2.44 million|
|2001||Joel Guzman, ss, Dodgers||$2.255 million|
|1999||Byung-Hyun Kim, rhp, Diamondbacks||$2.25 million|
|1999||Chin-Hui Tsao, rhp, Rockies||$2.20 million|
|2006||Angel Villalona, 3b, Giants||$2.1 million|
|2008||Juan Duran, of, Reds||$2.0 million|
|2000||Chien-Ming Wang, rhp, Yankees||$1.91 million|
|1999||Miguel Cabrera, 3b, Marlins||$1.8 million|
|2006||Jesus Montero, c, Yankees||$1.65 million|
“He is one of the better position players on the international market this year,” Giants scouting director John Barr said in a press release. “We scouted him extensively this season with many people on our staff evaluating him. To a man, we all agree that Rafael is the type of player that we want to bring into the Giants organization.”
The bonus eclipses Wily Mo Pena’s $2.44 million bonus, which came as part of a major league deal with the Yankees when he was 17 years old. The bonus money also surpasses the $2.255 million bonus the Dodgers spent on Joel Guzman on 2001. Rob Plummer, the agent who represents Rodriguez, also negotiated Guzman’s first pro contract.
Dominican righthander Michel Inoa, who signed on July 2 for $4.25 million with the Athletics, holds the record for any bonus for a non-Cuban from Latin America. Rodriguez’s bonus ranks second in that category and surpasses the $2.1 million the Giants gave Dominican first baseman Angel Villalona in 2006 for the organization’s top international bonus.
At 6-foot-5, 198 pounds, Rodriguez has good raw power and a projectable hitter’s frame. A righthanded batter, Rodriguez has plenty of tools—he’s an above-average runner with an above-average arm—but some scouts weren’t sold on his hitting mechanics and overall feel for hitting.
“From a tools perspective,” said one international scouting director, ”you’re not gonna find a better kid.”