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International Reviews: Cincinnati Reds

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Jose Israel Garcia (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Total 2017 signings: 33.

Top 2017-18 signing: 1B Leonardo Seminati, Italy, $135,000.

The Reds essentially spent their 2017-18 bonus pool money during the previous signing period. That’s when the Reds went over their international bonus pool to sign three Cuban players, starting with shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez for $7 million and righthander Vladimir Gutierrez for $4.75 million before signing second baseman Jose Israel Garcia for $5 million last June just as the 2016-17 period was closing.

In the Reds’ view, they were getting the equivalent of three first-round picks in that signing period. Teams can’t roll over bonus pool money from one period to another, but between the signing bonuses and the 100 percent overage tax, to make it work within their internal budget the Reds spent less than usual in 2017-18. They traded $2.75 million of 2017-18 bonus pool space to the Red Sox to acquire first baseman Nick Longhi, one of the better prospects a team has received in exchange for bonus pool space. They also sent $1.25 million in pool space to the Braves in a trade for speedy outfielder Randy Ventura.

As a penalty for exceeding their bonus pool in 2016-17, the Reds were under their first of two years being restricted to signings of no more than $300,000. Their only signing last year after July 2 of more than $100,000 was Leonardo Seminati, a 19-year-old Italian first baseman the Reds gave $135,000 in July. The Reds scouted Seminati in Europe, then when Major League Baseball brought a group of European players over to extended spring training, they got additional looks at him as well.

After signing, Seminati in September played in the U-18 World Cup in Thunder Bay in Canada, where he  batted .423/.531/.654 with two home runs in 26 at-bats despite playing through a wrist injury. Seminati is 6-foot-2, 210 pounds with above-average power from the right side of the plate. He showed his power in Thunder Bay and again at instructional league, where he homered off the Dodgers’ scoreboard in Arizona. Seminati has put together quality at-bats against the competition he’s faced, but he’s yet to be tested against much velocity yet. Seminati is athletic enough for his size that he could potentially try third base or go out to left field at some point.

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