Under the new international free agent signing rules, teams are allowed to trade their bonus pool money, and teams have taken advantage of that privilege a few times today. Bonus money has been included in all three trades completed today (all of which happen to include the Chicago Cubs), and the latest deal involves the Astros and a type of player they've had success with in the past- an undersized, Venezuelan second baseman with plus contact skills.
The player in question is Ronald Torreyes, who came to Chicago via Cincinnati in the Sean Marshall trade. Torreyes looks like a little league world series player with his slight, 5'9" frame, but throughout his minor league career he has done nothing but put the ball in play. Though he lacks power- and always will- Torreyes gets bat to ball at a better clip than just about anyone in the minor leagues. During the last three minor league seasons, his K rate has hovered around 6%, and currently sits at 5.7% in Double-A. He's an above average runner and can steal a bag when asked. His walk rate has a steady upward trend as well.
Torreyes's swing is a thing of beauty. He's remarkably balanced, keeps the bat head back and gets his hands to the ball in the hurry and has power to the gaps when he's able to barrel the ball. His contact skills will translate to the major leagues, even if his lack of pop will continue to be exposed, and he should be able to fit in very nicely as a utility infielder. He's played some shortstop in the past and can hold down the fort there, and he's a present above-average defender at second base. He's not the kind of sexy, high ceiling prospect that casual fans crave, but there's a lot to appreciate about a player who projects to the major leagues as readily as Torreyes does, and at just 20 years old there's potential for him to grow further, particularly in regards to plate discipline. The Astros haven't come away with any of the big J-2 names, but many of those big names will fall short of what Torreyes is likely to provide at the major league level.