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2012-13 International Reviews: Los Angeles Angels

Top signing: OF Natanael Delgado, Dominican Republic, $280,000.

Six-figure signings: OF Ricky Martinez (Dominican Republic).

Marc Russo helped start the rebuilding process of the Angels’ international program, putting together a staff to give the organization a new foundation in Latin America. First-year general manager Jerry Dipoto opted to make a change after the 2012 season, however, bringing aboard Carlos Gomez to run the team’s international scouting. Gomez had previously worked with Dipoto with the Diamondbacks, where Gomez was Arizona’s international scouting director.

The Angels have a thin layer of international talent in the U.S. Rookie leagues and the low Class A Midwest League, the result of firing former international director Clay Daniel shortly before July 2, 2009, dumping scouts and taking a conservative approach to the international market. Last year the Angels again worked with a limited budget in Latin America, but the $280,000 they paid for Dominican outfielder Natanael Delgado (video) in September was the biggest bonus they have given an international player in a few years. Delgado, who turned 17 in October, is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound lefty who trained with Josue Herrera and played in the Dominican Prospect League. Delgado stands out for his hitting potential, with a loose, fluid swing and a clean bat path without much effort and good balance. He has good bat speed and can backspin a ball. His body has physical projection, but it’s a hit first, power second profile with the potential for 15-20 home runs.

In between dismissing Russo and hiring Gomez, the Angels signed Dominican outfielder Ricky Martinez for $185,000 in October. Martinez, 17, is more physical (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) than Delgado but cruder at the plate. He has a lean, athletic body with a chance to play center field because of his plus speed and average to above-average arm. He has more power potential than Delgado but he’s a raw hitter who will need to iron things out with his swing and his approach.

The big international signing news last year on Feb. 29 was Jairo Beras with the Rangers, but that same day the Angels made a nice signing, adding Dominican righthander Eduar Lopez for $45,000. Lopez, 17, trained with Tony Arias (no relation to the Reds Latin American director) in Azua and would have ranked first in the Dominican Summer League in strikeouts per nine innings (14.0) had he thrown enough innings to qualify. He finished with a 3.54 ERA, 83 strikeouts and 23 walks in 53 1/3 innings. Lopez isn’t tall but he has a strong, compact frame (6 feet, 180 pounds) along the lines of Johnny Cueto and an 89-91 mph fastball that hits 93. Lopez racked up strikeouts by getting ahead of hitters with his fastball, then burying them with a late-breaking curveball with tight snap in the strike zone.

Dominican lefthander Edisson Rosario was an outfielder who had only been pitching for a few months before the Angels signed him for $85,000 out of Santo Domingo in May. Rosario, who turned 18 in August, didn’t pitch much in the DSL, but he could be an interesting sleeper. He’s 6 feet, 180 pounds, athletic, has a loose arm and a fastball that touches 90 mph. He throws two different breaking balls, a 74-78 mph curveball and a hard slider at 80-82 mph.

Ramon Rodriguez, a Dominican righthander who turned 19 in September, had a strong debut after signing for $30,000 last year in January. Rodriguez, who is Dominican born also lived in Brooklyn before going back to the Dominican Republic, finished with a 1.86 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 18 walks in 38 2/3 innings while pitching mostly in relief. At 6 feet, 180 pounds, Rodriguez throws up to 92 mph with a good changeup.

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