Rays Sign No. 1 International Prospect Adrian Rondon

Dominican shortstop Adrian Rondon, the No. 1 international prospect for July 2, has signed with the Rays for $2,950,000. Rondon became eligible to sign today, his 16th birthday, and has earned widespread praise from scouts for his offensive potential at a premium position. The signing puts the Rays well beyond 15 percent over their $1,998,100 bonus pool, which means they will have to pay a 100 percent tax on their pool overage and won’t be allowed to sign any player for more than $300,000 in the next two signing periods.

Baseball America subscribers have access to more than 50 scouting reports on the top international amateur prospects for July 2. Rondon’s complete scouting report is available below as a free preview. BA subscribers can also read an in-depth feature on Rondon with scouts breaking down the Rays’ new shortstop.

1. Adrian Rondon, ss, Dominican Republic

Born: July 7, 1998. Height: 6-2. Weight: 180. B-T: R-R.

Rondon is one of the youngest players in the class--he won't be able to sign until he turns 16 on July 7--but his feel for the game is well beyond his years. When Rondon was 12, he joined Astin Jacobo's program in San Pedro de Macoris, where they play games six days a week. He also played in the International Prospect League and established himself as an athletic, game-oriented player who can play in the middle of the diamond while excelling at the plate.

Some scouts consider Rondon the most advanced hitter in the class. He has good bat speed and a quick, compact stroke, showing a knack for barreling the ball with good plate coverage to make plenty of contact in games. He has good rhythm and balance with the ability to square up high-end velocity. He will chase hard breaking pitches off the plate at times, but he has a mature hitting approach for his age, working deep counts and using the whole field. He's more of a line-drive hitter than a power threat, but there's loft in his swing and projection in his frame, so his doubles should turn into more home runs with more strength.

Rondon also has the attributes that should allow him to stick at shortstop. He's more of a steady defender than a flashy one, with speed and arm strength that both grade out as 50-55 tools on the 20-80 scale. Given that he's still 15 and has a live, athletic frame, both of those tools could tick up, although that's always tricky to project. Rondon will have to improve his footwork, but he has good hands and plays under control with a knack for slowing the game down on both sides of the ball.

Scouts highest on Rondon think he could make a rapid rise, along the lines of Starlin Castro. Sources believe the Rays are so enamored with Rondon that they are willing to shatter their international bonus pool to make sure they get him, which is why they're seen as the favorites to sign him.

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