ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays announced on Thursday that they have signed international free agent right-handed pitcher Sandy Gaston to a Minor League contract. The Matanzas, Cuba, native is 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, and he will turn 17 on Dec. 16. Gaston's signing bonus is worth $2.61 million, a source
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays announced on Thursday that they have signed international free agent right-handed pitcher Sandy Gaston to a Minor League contract. The Matanzas, Cuba, native is 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, and he will turn 17 on Dec. 16. Gaston's signing bonus is worth $2.61 million, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. El Nuevo Herald's Jorge Ebro first reported the Rays' deal with Gaston last month.
Gaston was scouted and signed by Rays director of international scouting Carlos Rodriguez and Dominican Republic scouting supervisor Danny Santana. Among international prospects eligible to sign this year, MLB Pipeline rated him the No. 16 prospect overall.
"We believe Sandy is a high-caliber pitching prospect with potential elite Major League fastball, quality secondary components and possesses the physical and mental characteristics to develop into an impactful Major League pitcher," said Rodriguez. "His size, arm talent and age make him a very unique pitcher. We are thrilled to add him to our signing class and into the Rays organization."
The question isn't if Gaston can pitch. It's whether he will be a starter or pitch out of the bullpen one day. The most skeptical scouts wonder if he will throw enough strikes.
Here's why: Gaston is an especially hard thrower. His fastball has been clocked as 97 mph, and it's not uncommon for him to sit at 94-95. That type of velocity is rare in any market and not surprisingly, some scouts wonder if he will be able to command the high velocity on a consistent basis. But his skill is extraordinary, and Gaston is the type of pitcher any club would like to put it in its system.
In terms of secondary pitches, the belief is that those will develop once he signs with a team and receives daily instruction in an academy.
Gaston gave up one hit, struck out a batter and walked one at MLB's International Prospect Showcase in February. He didn't show his best fastball or command.