Four days after having signed 16-year old Dominican outfielder Elier Hernandez, the Kansas City Royals announced they had signed two more international players on Wednesday. The first player is 16-year old shortstop Angelo Castalleno while the other is 16-year old Luis Lara, a catcher. Both are natives of Venezuela.
July 2nd marked the first day of the year when major league teams could sign international players to free agent contracts. The basic rule is if someone is 16, you can feel free to sign them up. With the number of successful major league players currently from Latin American countries, it becomes a smorgasbord for teams willing to open up their wallets.
I won't pretend to know much about either Castalleno or Lara, but Castalleno is right-handed and has good power for his agent. If he indeed does have some pop to his bat, it wouldn't be out of the question for him to likely move to other infield spots.
Lara on the other hand is a defensive minded catcher, which initially reminded me of Salvador Perez, who currently is the catcher at Double A Northwest Arkansas, and likely the Royals catcher of the future at the moment. Perez is a 21-year old defensive wizard who is also native to Venezuela. Perez has a cannon for an arm and at times make would be base stealers look silly as he guns them down.
Among the current big league guys who are from Venezuela, odds are you recognize the names of Elvis Andrus, Pablo Sandoval, Ansdrubal Cabrera, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Martin Prado, and Felix Hernandez just to name a few. The list goes on and on with even more All-Star players.
Obviously these signings are based on projections as it's not likely a 16-year old will transition to the minor league system right away and they are still a long time away from the major league level. However these moves pay off big, when a player such as those listed above ascent through the system. These recent signees will likely head to extended spring training in Arizona and likely join a minor league teams sometime next season.
Look for more updates throughout the summer as Kansas City likely has their eyes on a couple more signings in the international market.