The Indians have emerged as one of the most aggressive teams on the international market in recent years, and that trend is continuing during this year’s international signing period.
The Tribe announced the signing of 15 international free agents on Tuesday evening, but none of which were shortstop Jose Pastrano. According to industry sources, the club has agreed to a $1.5 million deal with shortstop Pastrano, ranked No. 25 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 International Prospects list. The club also has an agreement with outfielder Luis Durango of Panama, the son of former Major League player Luis Durango, for an estimated $550,000 and a $450,000 deal with Dominican shortstop Jose Devers.
While the club has not confirmed the deal for Pastrano, it’s likely that he will sign with Cleveland this week.
• Top international prospects signings
At 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds, Pastrano is best known as an agile middle infielder with a chance to be a good hitter. He already has quick feet, soft hands and solid defensive actions. Add a strong arm that could become above average and the teen has a chance to be a plus defender.
At the plate, he is a line-drive hitter who shows a good feel for the strike zone. He drives the ball to the opposite field particularly well and has enough bat speed to compete against average and slightly above-average fastballs. He’s a good runner now and is expected to be a plus runner in the future.
• Top 30 International Prospects
The 15 newest additions to the Indians' farm system include eight players from the Dominican Republic, four from Venezuela, two from Panama and one from Columbia.
“Really excited to be able to add 15 players to the organization today,” assistant general manager Matt Foreman said. “Our scouts worked diligently over the last several years, really to build history on this set of players and get to know them. And to be able to matriculate a group of 15 players to the organization today is obviously really exciting for the players, their families, their agents and for our scouting staff.”
Here are all 15 signees:
Juan Benjamin, Dominican Republic, SS
Maick Collado, Dominican Republic, SS
Angel Contreras, Columbia, SS
Jose Devers, Dominican Republic, SS
Luis Durango, Panama, CF
Victor Garcia, Dominican Republic, RHP
Jhoan Gomez, Venezeula, SS
Esteban Gonzalez, Venezuela, OFC
Danny Medina, Dominican Republic, RHP
Angel Mendoza, Venezuela, CF
Kenny Pinto, Panama, LHP
Adrian Rodriguez, Dominican Republic, RHP
Juan Rodriguez, Venezuela, CF
Erickson Sarita, Dominican Republic, CF
Adalberto Vargas, Dominican Republic C
The Indians also inked Collado, who’s brother Offerman is in the Royals’ farm system, and Devers, who’s cousin is Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers.
“The fact they grew up around the game is evident in the way they play and kind of their personalities, character and make up,” Foreman said. “In each of those cases, they have a really advanced feel for the game, a really good baseball IQ, and it’s pretty neat to see the passion they have for the game that runs in their family bloodlines.”
Of the Indians' Top 30 Prospects, as ranked by MLB Pipeline, three have come from the international market over the last few years: No. 5 George Valera, No. 7 Brayan Rocchio and No. 14 Aaron Bracho.
“The international market is incredibly complex and incredibly challenging to navigate,” Foreman said. “And our scouting group led by Paul Gillispie and our scouts throughout the world do an incredible job of building history on players.
“That’s really been a disproportionate focus of ours to see players in game settings over an extended period of time, so we have a track record of performance and a track record of how they handle themselves as individuals. So, considering the market dynamics, it’s been impressive to see the work that our scouts have done in navigating the landscape to be able to add impactful players through the international system.”
According to the rules established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs like the Indians that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the Rule 4 Draft have the most money with a pool of $6,481,200 for spending on international prospects, while clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Rule 4 Draft receive the second most at $5,939,800.
Teams are allowed to trade as much of their international pool money as they would like, but can only acquire 60 percent of a team's initial pool amount. Additionally, 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.
Under the previous system, teams were penalized for exceeding their bonus pools with consequences that ranged from taxes on their spending to the maximum penalty, which was being prohibited from signing any prospect for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods. That’s no longer the case and there are no longer penalties. Teams can only spend their allotted bonus pools and the monies acquired via trade.
Jesse Sanchez, who has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.