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Astros Nab Ariel Ovando As First July 2 Signee

I posted this first as a FanShot, but then I found some video of Mr. Ariel Ovando, a 16-year old left-handed outfielder from the Dominican Republic.

Mother of God, this kid looks good. I don't remember seeing a prospect that I have liked instantly as I do with this kid. His swing is a little unorthodox, as I don't love how little weight he puts on that front foot in his pre-swing sequence. He does seem to transfer his weight well once he's committed to swinging, though and...well, just look at the video.

Look at that power. He has a raw violence to his swing that I really like. It may just be his bat speed, or his poise or body control, but I think this kid could be really, really good. MLB Trade Rumors ranked him third on their list of July 2 prospects. Multiple scouts compared him to Darryl Strawberry, and I can see why they'd have that reaction. I'm reminded a little of Gary Sheffield. Oh, and did I mention the most jaw dropping part? That last snippet of him in the field shows him throwing an absolute laser to third base. Seriously, I was impressed and then I saw that. As a 16-year old kid, he's got one of the best arms I saw in the past six months.

Now, I'm also reacting to 42 seconds of video. I'm being a bit irrational. Just know that I like what I see. Further, I like what this means for the organization. Last season, Drayton and Co. told us that they'd be spreading their money around, signing good prospects but not spending it all in once place. This year, they've opened a shiny new academy in the Dominican and are aggressively courting the best players. Ben Badler is reporting that his signing bonus will be for around 2.6-2.8 million. That seems about right for his talent level and would put him in the first 10 picks if he were slotted into the draft. I don't know if they Astros will try to sign anyone else, but any concerns I had about their investment in international scouting are starting to lessen.

UPDATE: Baseball America has some quotes about Ovando from Bobby Heck:

"This is a high-caliber talent who we think has a chance to be an impact bat and would be a definite first-rounder in any draft," Heck said.

Ovando will begin his career in right field, but the biggest draw for most scouts is his outstanding physical frame at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, and lefthanded power.

"It's a body with physical upside to it," Heck said. "We think there's hit skill here more than just raw bat speed and a high ceiling for power, too. We think he has damage to do both as a hitter and with power."