Elite OF among 15 int'l prospects Astros add

January 18th, 2022

HOUSTON -- The Astros agreed to terms on contracts with 15 international free agents on Saturday, including 12 players from the Dominican Republic and three from Cuba. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

Saturday was the start of the international signing period, which runs through Dec. 15.

“Each international signing is special as it represents the culmination of a collaborative process with contributions coming not only from our international scouting department, but also from player development, sport science and sports medicine and performance,” said Charles Cook, Astros senior director of player evaluation. “We look forward to supporting this class of players as they begin their professional journey in our player development system.”

Among Saturday's signings was 16-year-old Cuban outfielder Kenni Gomez, who is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 42 prospect in this year’s international signing class. He signed for $775,000, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.

The Astros also are high on 18-year-old Dominican outfielder Luis Báez.

“Luis Báez projects to be an everyday right fielder with a special bat,” Dominican Republic scouting supervisor Alfredo Ulloa said. “Báez has a solid and durable build with above-average strength for his age, which translates into present power. He projects to hit in the middle of the order with HR/RBI production, and shows four solid tools on the 20-80 scouting scale. Luis has continued to develop his bat and his defensive abilities, and we are excited to add him to the organization.”

Here is the full signing class:

José Arias, San Cristóbal, D.R., 17 years old, OF, 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, bats R/throws R
Luis Báez, Bani, D.R., 18 years old, OF, 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, R/R
Henry Bibieca, San Cristóbal, D.R., 19 years old, RHP 6-foot-1, 176 pounds, R/R
Samuel Capellán, Santo Domingo Este, D.R., 17 years old, IF, 5-foot-11, 155 pounds, R/R
Áxell De Paula, Yamasa, D.R., 17 years old, OF, 5-foot-10, 178 pounds, R/R
Carlos Espinosa, Camagüey, Cuba, 20 years old, RHP, 6-foot-2, 188 pounds, R/R
Kenni Gómez, Granma, Cuba, 16 years old, OF, 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, L/R
Edwin González, San Francisco de Macorís, D.R., 17 years old, RHP, 6-foot-2, 153 pounds, R/R
Alberto Hernández, Isla de Juventud, Cuba, 17 years old, IF, 6-foot, 169 pounds, R/R
Waner Luciano, Santo Domingo, D.R., 17 years old, IF, 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, R/R
Marco Marcelino, Dajabón, D.R., 17 years old, OF, 5-foot-9, 191 pounds, R/R
Sandy Mejía, Monte Plata, D.R., 18 years old, RHP, 6-foot, 160 pounds, R/R
Michael Pérez, Santiago de los Caballeros, D.R., 17 years old, RHP, 6-foot-4, 243 pounds, R/R
Rafael Ramírez, Azua, D.R., 17 years old, IF, 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, R/R
Raimy Rodríguez, Puerto Plata, D.R., 16 years old, RHP, 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, R/R

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association finalized a deal in March 2020 that addressed the international signing period during the pandemic. The 2022 international signing period runs through Dec. 15, 2022, the second year in a row the period, which previously began July 2, started in January.

The current rules also state that teams are not allowed to trade any of their international pool money. Signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward a club's bonus pool, and foreign professional players who are at least 25 years of age and have played in a foreign league for at least six seasons are also exempt.