July 2 International Free Agency: Astros ink two more prospects

Alan Crowhurst

On Thursday, the Astros announced they had reached agreements with two more international free agents.

Houston has been busy in the IFA market this season, reaching deals with two more prospects Thursday, a day after inking three on the period's opening day.

The Astros signed shortstop Juan Pineda and shortstop Ozziel Sanchez, both of whom are 16. Both are also from Panama, but neither were ranked by MLB.com's Top 30 IFAs or Baseball America's top list.

Pineda is 5-foot-10 and 145 points from Veraguas, Panama while Sanchez is 5-11 and 160 pounds from Panama City, Panama. Both players are headed to the Astros complex in the Dominican Republic.

Oz Ocampo talked about both in the team press release. On Pineda:

"Pineda's best tool is his bat," said Ocampo. "He has a quiet approach and a short, quick stroke with good rhythm and balance. He has a knack for centering balls and hitting line drives to all fields. In the 2014 Panama National 15U tournament, Pineda led his team in hitting with a .338 batting average and was second in the tournament in hits."

On Sanchez:

"His best tool is his defense. Sanchez has quick actions, soft hands, and an average to solid average arm presently. He projects to play at shortstop. Offensively, he shows gap power and uses all fields. He is a high-energy player who likes to play the game."

Houston has the most money to spend of any team in the IFA bonus pool, but the New York Yankees have blitzed the system so far. To this point, the Yankees have signed nine of the top 25 rated players and spent much more than the bonus pool allows.

The Astros are expected to sign more players, including at least one outfielder from the Dominican Republic. They have been linked to outfielder Ronny Rafael, who's ranked as the No. 19 prospect on MLB.com's list and is expect to receive a seven-figure deal.

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