A's Take Lead In Inoa Sweepstakes

Dominican could shatter bonus records

According to several international sources, Oakland has established itself as the clear frontrunner to sign 16-year-old Dominican righthander Michel Inoa when the international signing period begins on July 2.

Multiple international scouts have told Baseball America in the past week that Inoa will shatter all bonus records for the international signing period by signing a contract worth at least $4 million, with numbers in the $4.2 to $4.5 million range being floated.

"He's a once-in-a-decade type pitcher," said one international scout.

Scouts say the Yankees have also been heavily pursuing Inoa, who hails from Puerto Plata, but with one week until Inoa can officially sign, the A's appear to be the favorite for his services. Oakland general manager Billy Beane and other top talent evaluators from the organization had been in the Dominican Republic to watch Inoa earlier in the year, and Beane was reportedly back in the Dominican again in recent weeks.

Inoa's fastball sits in the low-90s and has touched 94, and he complements it with a curveball that generates generally positive reviews from scouts and a changeup. Aside from his present velocity, what stands out about Inoa is his size—at 6-foot-7, 205 pounds he projects to throw even harder—and his athleticism, which enables to repeat his fluid delivery.

Oakland set a franchise record for an international signing bonus in February, when the A's gave 17-year-old outfielder Robin Rosario $350,000. The highest bonus given to an amateur player in Athletics history came in 1998, when Mark Mulder received $3.2 million as the second overall pick in the draft coming out of Michigan State.

The current record holder for a non-Cuban signing bonus from Latin America is Wily Mo Pena, who in April, 1999 signed a $2.44 million bonus as part of a major league contract with the Yankees. Pena was 17 years old at the time, and Major League Basbeall voided his original contract that he signed with the Mets the previous year. In 2001, the Dodgers gave Joel Guzman $2.25 million, the current record for a 16-year-old signed during the international signing period.