The Diamondbacks signed the top rated international catching prospect Jose Herrera for more than $1 million. Herrera is just 16 years old and was rated the #10 overall international prospect according to Baseball America. He switched to catcher last year from third base and the consensus is he has the skills to remain at the position. He was a featured player for the Venezuelan under-15 World Championship team and went 3 for 6 in the championship game in a 10-2 win over Cuba.
It was thought Herrera was headed to the Astros who reportedly offered him more money. But in Baseball America's report a trip to Salt River Fields and extended spring training impressed him enough to sign with the Diamondbacks. He's a switch-hitter with a stocky build at 5-10, 175 and it's thought he will hit for power as he progresses with a natural lift in his swing. With the recent struggles of Michael Perez at Visalia and the open question mark of whether Stryker Trahan can remain at the position, the Dbacks have a need for a developmental catcher.
According to Nick Piecoro it's the most the Dbacks have spent on an international signing in 14 years.
The Dbacks also signed 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Francis Martinez for $350,000. Baseball America notes that the 6-4, 190 switch-hitter has power potential and good athleticism for his size. The team also signed Dominican outfielder Jose Lopez for $200,000 and third baseman Josue Herrera for $150,000.
Nice to see the Dbacks making a splash with some significant international signings. The new rules for international players did help level the playing field for all teams with limits on the total bonus pool allowed and the Dbacks didn't hesitate to take advantage of that. The bonus pool available to each team is in inverse order to their respective winning percentages the previous season. So the Astros have the most money to spend on international signings at $4.9 million, and the Expos have the least at $1.8 million. The Dbacks have $2.3 million they can spend and have signed seven players total so far taking up $1,900,000.
Teams are allowed to go over their pool amounts but the penalties for doing so are harsh. For example, the Rays went more than 15% over their 2012-2013 pool amount and will pay a 100% tax on that overage and be prevented from spending more than $250,000 on any one player for 2013-2014, though they will be allowed to spend their total pool amount.