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Astros sign 26 International free agents

Signings include the Astros first class of players from Brazil

HOUSTON, TX - The Houston Astros have agreed to terms on contracts with 26 international free agents, including 12 players from Venezuela, 10 from the Dominican Republic, two from Brazil, one from Mexico and one from the Netherlands. The announcement was made by Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Director of International Oz Ocampo. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

"Our continued objective is to maximize Major League value and our Latin player pipeline through best-in-class international scouting, player development, and operations," said Ocampo. "We have been able to execute our strategy so far with the acquisitions of Brian McCann and Yuli Gurriel and the development of key international prospects, including Franklin Perez, Freudis Nova, Hector Perez, Jorge Alcala, Gilberto Celestino, Miguelangel Sierra, Cionel Perez, Framber Valdez, and others."
 
"Today's signings reaffirm our commitment to this objective, and we are fortunate to have the continuous support of Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow, and our entire ownership and front office group," said Ocampo. "Their support has allowed us to aggressively pursue the top amateur and professional international players for the Houston Astros organization, and provide them with the very best player development environment for them to succeed."

HOUSTON, TX - The Houston Astros have agreed to terms on contracts with 26 international free agents, including 12 players from Venezuela, 10 from the Dominican Republic, two from Brazil, one from Mexico and one from the Netherlands. The announcement was made by Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Director of International Oz Ocampo. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

"Our continued objective is to maximize Major League value and our Latin player pipeline through best-in-class international scouting, player development, and operations," said Ocampo. "We have been able to execute our strategy so far with the acquisitions of Brian McCann and Yuli Gurriel and the development of key international prospects, including Franklin Perez, Freudis Nova, Hector Perez, Jorge Alcala, Gilberto Celestino, Miguelangel Sierra, Cionel Perez, Framber Valdez, and others."
 
"Today's signings reaffirm our commitment to this objective, and we are fortunate to have the continuous support of Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow, and our entire ownership and front office group," said Ocampo. "Their support has allowed us to aggressively pursue the top amateur and professional international players for the Houston Astros organization, and provide them with the very best player development environment for them to succeed."

Headlining today's signings is the Astros first class of players from Brazil, which includes right-handed pitcher Heitor Tokar, the No. 50 overall player in this year's international class per Baseball America, and Brazil's top hitter, third baseman/outfielder Victor Coutinho.

"Heitor stands out for his physicality, power stuff, and pitchability for a 16 year old, and we project him as a power starter," said Ocampo. "Heitor is 6-foot-7, 250 pounds with an 88-92 mph fastball, solid changeup, and two breaking balls (curveball/slider), all of which he throws for strikes. We are excited to welcome both Heitor and Victor into the Astros family."

Leading the 10 players the Astros signed out of the Dominican Republic is right-handed pitcher Jose Betances

"Jose is a physical, strong and athletic right-handed starter with some of the best present stuff in this year's class," said Ocampo. "He is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and owns a 91-95 mph fastball that generates swings and misses, and a hard 'downer' slider at 81-84 mph. Both of those pitches project as plus, and with our development program, Betances should be a fast mover through our minor league system."

The Astros signed a strong group of young power/speed outfielders out of Venezuela, led by center fielders Yefri Carrillo and Wilyer Abreu.

"Yefri has a great frame and plus athleticism to go along with all five tools, as he possesses a solid bat/power combination, is a plus runner and plus fielder, and owns a 70 arm," said Ocampo. "Wilyer is a left-handed hitter with an advanced approach from the plate as well as defensively in center field. He is also a plus runner with a 55 arm. Both players stand out for their work ethic and competitive nature."

Two standout pitchers the Astros signed out of Venezuela include right-handed pitcher Jairo Lopez and left-handed pitcher Ricardo Leon

Lopez, a 5-foot-11, 150 pound right-hander, has a "solid delivery and possesses strike throwing ability, above average tempo, mound presence and competitiveness," said Astros Assistant Director of International Scouting Roman Ocumarez.

Leon, a 6-foot-4, 165 pound left-handed pitcher, has a "very projectable frame and will not turn seventeen until March of 2018," said Astros Assistant Director of International Scouting Tom Shafer. "We believe that once Ricardo matures physically, he has the potential to develop three average-or-better Major League pitches. He also has an advanced presence on the mound and is a highly intelligent kid, both on and off the field."

All 26 players will report to the Astros complex in the Dominican Republic but will not appear in games until the 2018 calendar year.

Player   Pos.   Ht.   Wt.   Hometown
Abreu, Wilyer   OF   6-0   180   Maracaibo, Venezuela
Barcenas, Hecduar   RHS   6-3   185   Cumanacoa, Venezuela
Bellozo, Valente   RHS   5-10   170   Mexicali, Mexico
Bermudez, Javier   SS   5-11   155   Maracaibo, Venezuela
Betances, Jose   RHS   6-2   185   Salcedo, Dominican Republic
Blanco, Alex   RHS   6-1   180   San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
Carrillo, Yefri   OF   6-2   170   Municipio Paez, Venezuela
Castillo, Abraham   OF   6-0   180   Los Teques, Venezuela
Cortabarria, Yimmi   OF   6-2   175   Maturin, Venezuela
Garcia, Luis   RHS   6-1   185   Heres, Venezuela
Gonzalez, Flaer   RHS   5-10   160   Bani, Dominican Republic
Hurtado, Carlos   C   6-0   170   Tinaquillo, Venezuela
Jaquez, Ernesto   RHS   6-2   190   Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Jimenez, Alfredi   RHS   6-1   175   Bani, Dominican Republic
Leon, Ricardo   LHS   6-4   165   Libertador, Venezuela
Lopez, Jairo   RHS   5-11   150   Cumanacoa, Venezuela
Marte, Junior   SS   6-2   165   Nagua, Dominican Republic
Mascai, Victor   OF   6-2   188   Marília, Brazil
Mezquita, Cristofer   LHS   6-0   175   Santiago, Dominican Republic
Morillo, Enmanuel   SS   6-0   175   Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Pinto, Franklin   OF   6-1   160   Valencia, Venezuela
Ramirez, Manny   RHS   5-11   170   Villa Mella, Dominican Republic
Taveras, Diosmerky   RHS   6-3   180   Mao, Dominican Republic
Tokar, Heitor   RHS   6-7   250   Marília, Brazil
Toro, Ricardo   C   6-1   170   Cojedes, Venezuela
Van Der Wijst, Oliver   3B   5-10   180   Almere, Netherlands

-ASTROS-