Mets Sign Top Two Latin American Free Agents

By John Manuel
July 11, 2005

The Mets have the major leagues' only Latin American general manager, Omar Minaya. They signed the two most recognizable Latin American free agents in the offseason, Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez.

Now, the organization has spent more money on Latin American free agents in 2005 than any other organization. New York signed outfielder Fernando Martinez for $1.4 million, and international scouts say Martinez was the top hitter available in the Dominican this year. Scouting sources in Latin America also report that the Mets have signed the top player out of Venezuela, righthander Deolis Guerra, for $700,000.

Both Martinez and Guerra have signed 2006 contracts. Several scouts contacted agree the international signing period, just more than a week old, is more active than usual, thanks in part to the Mets and also to the Rangers.

"There have been at least nine or 10 guys signed for six figures," one international scouting director said. "It's probably double the number in an average year."

Martinez, represented by agent Ivan Noboa, has received the largest bonus so far. Scouts describe Martinez as a player with skills more typically found in American amateurs rather than Dominicans. His lefthanded bat is his best tool thanks to a mature approach for his age and his surehanded swing. He's described as an average athlete with a strong frame. Some reports describe Martinez as having a Raul Mondesi-type arm, but scouts contacted by Baseball America say his arm is average.

Guerra is a 6-foot-5 righthander with a projectable frame and a fastball that has touched 90 mph.

Still available is the consensus top talent in the international arena this year, Dominican righthander Rolando Pascual. He's 6-foot-6 and has shown low 90s velocity with an easy delivery.