July 2 International Free Agent signings: Astros add three from Venezuela

Scott Halleran

Astros off to a quick start on Day 1 of the international signing period

Today marks the beginning of the international signing period and once again the Astros have the largest allotted signing pool, at just over 5 million. As I briefly mentioned in the recap of last night's game, Luhnow indicated in his interview in the booth during the top of the third inning that the Astros intended to sign a couple of Venezuelans today and perhaps two Dominicans tomorrow.

And, true to his word, the Astros have apparently made two seven-figure signings right out of the gate. Jesse Sanchez is reporting on MLB.com that the Astros have signed "a pair of highly touted Venezuelan teenagers to their system by signing shortstop Miguel Angel Sierra and right-handed pitcher Franklin Perez." According to MLB.com, Perez and Sierra are the 21st and 23rd top international prospects, respectively.

The Astros also signed Venezuelan catcher Brandon Benavente for 250K, according to the article. According to Sanchez, the club has yet to confirm the signings.

The Astros FO has plenty of money left available and are no doubt just getting warmed up.

The Astros officially announced all three signings before Wednesday's game and Astros Director of International Scouting Oz Ocampo provided comments on all three players.

On Perez:

"Franklin checks all the boxes in terms of what we look for in a frontline starter - a strong athletic body, clean arm action and delivery, advanced repertoire with now stuff, pitchability, and plus makeup," said Ocampo. "What impresses the most about Franklin is his plus makeup across the board. He works hard, shows competitive fire and intensity on the mound, and learns and applies information quickly. He is a blue-chip talent who checks all the boxes to be a potential Major League starter, and we believe he has the tools and makeup to approach his considerable projection."

On Sierra:

"What stands out initially with Miguelangel is the athleticism and ease of operation defensively," said Ocampo. "He shows fluid actions, soft hands, good footwork, and a very good internal clock for the position. Offensively, he is a high-contact hitter with a line-drive stroke that he brings to game situations. Defensively, we believe that he has a strong chance to develop into a plus defender at shortstop with a solid-average to plus arm."

On Benavente:

"We feel that Brandon's defensive package and special makeup separates him from all other catchers in this year's class," said Ocampo. "He is a high-energy, high-motor player with soft hands, solid receiving skills, good footwork, easy transfer, and solid blocking skills. Brandon has a strong, accurate arm which projects to be solid average in the future. Offensively, he is a switch-hitter who generates bat speed and gap power from both sides of the plate. Brandon has a special personality and a tremendous desire to play baseball."

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