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
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