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Astros gearing up for international signing period

HOUSTON -- With most of the Astros' top Draft picks in the fold, general manager Jeff Luhnow said Friday the team's main focus now is the start of the July 2 international signing period. He said director of international Oz Ocampo is entrenched in the Dominican Republic in anticipation.

"From Monday at midnight and Tuesday night at midnight, there will be about $20-30 million spent by the industry in that one day," Luhnow said. "It's basically a free-for-all."

The Astros have the most money to spend, with a pool of $4.9 million, and there are penalties for teams that go over the pool. What makes the period even more intriguing is teams can trade cap space in exchange for players.

According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a 16-year-old international player can sign during the period that extends from July 2 through June 15 of the following year if the prospect turns 17 before Sept. 1 or by the completion of his first Minor League season.

Additionally, any prospect who is already 17 or older and has not previously signed a Major or Minor League contract, resides outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and has not been enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico within the previous year is eligible to sign during the period.

"It's going to be like a dream come true for those guys," said Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who signed at 16 out of Venezuela. "I know how excited I was to sign with the Astros, and those guys are feeling the same right now."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
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