International Reviews: Colorado Rockies

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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 West International Review

Colorado Rockies

Top signing:
LHP Luis Guzman, Venezuela, $200,000.
Six-figure signings: RHP Andres Matos (Dominican Republic).

The Rockies have been a pitching factory under international scouting director Rolando Fernandez despite a modest annual budget, producing Ubaldo Jimenez, Jhoulys Chacin, Franklin Morales, Juan Nicasio and Esmil Rogers, with prospects like Jayson Aquino and Edwar Cabrera on the way up.

Last year Colorado's two of Colorado's top signings were pitchers, including Venezuelan lefthander Luis Guzman, who signed for $200,000 on July 2. Guzman, a 16-year-old from Caracas who trained with Yasser Mendez, is 6-foot-1 with a mid-to-high 80s fastball that has touched 90 mph. Guzman should add more velocity but already stands out for his pitchability and feel for his secondary pitches, including a good curveball and a solid changeup for his age.

Dominican righthander Andres Matos also signed on July 2 for a tick less money ($180,000) than Guzman, but some scouts think he has the higher ceiling. Matos, who is from San Pedro de Macoris, is 6-foot-2, 160 pounds and starting to fill out but still has a lot of physical projection left. Matos touched 91 mph before he signed and has since been up to 93. There should be more velocity in the future given his arm speed, athleticism, strength projection and good delivery. He's also shown some feel for his secondary pitches, including a curveball and a changeup.

On pure talent, Colorado's top international signing last year was arguably Venezuelan shortstop Luis Castro, even though he only signed for $50,000. Castro was one of the top prospects eligible to sign last year on July 2, and early in the signing period it looked like he would end up with the Rockies. Instead, he originally signed with the Blue Jays for $800,000 on July 2, but that deal was never finalized because Castro did not pass his physical due to a knee issue. When he became a free agent again, Castro did sign with the Rockies, but he again had a knee issue during his physical, so he settled for a $50,000 bonus in August.

Castro, 17, didn't have any one attention-grabbing tool, but he had proven himself as one of the more polished hitters on the market while representing Venezuela at international tournaments, including the Junior Caribbean Series in Venezuela in April 2011, then at the 16U World Championships in Mexico that year in August. Including a 4-for-5 game against Team USA, Castro hit .583/.655/.750 at the World Championships, going 14-for-24 with four walks, two strikeouts and four doubles, tying for the tournament lead in OBP and doubles and tying for second in batting average.

At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, the righthanded-hitting Castro has a good approach, a quick bat, a simple swing and routinely puts the barrel to the ball. He has good strike-zone awareness and hits to all fields. Some scouts thought Castro offered one of the better combinations of ability to hit for average and power among last year's hitters, but the power is mostly a projection at this point. He has good size, but he doesn't stand out for his raw power right now, as he mostly works the gaps for doubles. He could eventually grow into 15-20 home run power. Castro showcased at shortstop, but even before the knee problem popped up, scouts expected him to play either second or third base. He's a fringy runner at best but he has clean hands and a solid arm that would fit at third.