International Reviews: Cincinnati Reds

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Baseball America's annual International Reviews provide scouting reports on every team's top international amateur signings from the 2012 calendar year, as well as a look at any notable signings from the Cuban market.

See also: 2011 National League Central International Review

Cincinnati Reds

Top signing: OF Luis Hernandez, Dominican Republic, $160,000.
Six-figure signings: SS Francis Azcona (Dominican Republic), Pabel Manzanero (Venezuela), OF Jose De Luna (Dominican Republic).

Reds international scouts had to be pleased in 2012, as Cuban lefthander Aroldis Chapman turned in a dominant season for the Reds out of the bullpen. Didi Gregorius, a 2007 signing out of the Netherlands, was the key prospect that went to Arizona in the three-way trade that brought Shin-Soo Choo from Cleveland to Cincinnati.

Last year the Reds didn't make any major international signings, as they felt many of the prices for the top players outstripped their value. That meant they had plenty of pool space left when Dominican lefthander Jacob Constante popped up recently and hit 94 mph with a solid slider, so the Reds signed him last month for $730,000.

Cincinnati's biggest bonus last year went to Luis Hernandez, a Dominican outfielder who signed for $160,000 on July 9. Hernandez, who turned 18 a couple of weeks after he signed, originally became eligible to sign in 2011. He trained with Enrique Soto, who was recently sentenced to 10 years in jail for sexually assaulting two former players when they were minors. Hernandez is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound righthanded batter who impressed the Reds with his hitting. The Reds had him at 6.8 in the 60-yard dash, so he'll start off in center field.

The Reds have signed several players in recent years from Venezuelan trainer Ciro Barrios, including Yorman Rodriguez, Ismael Guillon, Ronald Torreyes, Humberto Valor and Soid Marquez, among others. They added another one of Barrios' players last year, catcher Pabel Manzanero, for $150,000, and he could turn out to be one of the better players the organization signed in 2012. Manzanero, who turned 17 in January, is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and drew attention early for his line-drive swing from the right side. His hitting was inconsistent as July 2 approached, but some scouts like his bat potential and arm strength. While some scouts thought he might be a better fit at third base, he's clocked average pop times to second base so others like him behind the plate and believe he'll stay there.

Dominican shortstop Francis Azcona signed for $150,000 in July. Azcona, who turned 17 in November and played in the Dominican Prospect League, makes up for his smaller size (5-foot-9, 160 pounds) with a high baseball IQ. Other than his above-average speed, the lefthanded-hitting Azcona doesn't have any tools that jump out, but he's a fundamentally sound player with good instincts.

Dominican outfielder Jose de Luna signed out of San Pedro de Macoris for $110,000 last year in February, though it took him until the end of June to get his contract approved, so he was limited to 33 games in the Dominican Summer League. De Luna, an 18-year-old righthanded hitter, has a long, athletic body type (6-foot-3, 195 pounds), though he's still very raw, as he showed by hitting .132/.195/.158 in 123 plate appearances. He split time between center field and left field, with his defensive acumen still on the cruder side.