Wait…international free agent talk before the MLB Draft in June?
Baseball America has a very interesting tidbit about whom the Houston Astrosmay be targeting with their rather large amount of bonus pool money they have for the international free agent market. After all, it is the largest pool for the second year in a row.
BA lists two players that have been connected to the Astros for more reasons that money alone.
Ronny Rafael is an outfielder from the Dominican Republic and plays in the Dominican Prospect League. The Astros have been big supporters of the DPL as it provides more opportunities to see these peloteros in game action as opposed to just structured showcases. One of the biggest issues with this market is that many of these players shine in practice but their tools don't translate into games. For that reason, Houston has been doing a lot of scouting in the DPL.
Rafael is a right-handed hitter with some power but has some contact issues secondary to poor pitch recognition, which isn't uncommon for a 16 year old. He's likely a right fielder in the pro ranks but currently plays center. Baseball America projects him to be the second highest paid outfielder out of the Dominican Republic this year with a price tag over one million.
The other is a Venezuelan shortstop named Miguel Angel Sierra. He is a good contact hitter but is limited to gap power. He has the tools to stick at shortstop and is praised for his instincts and knowledge of the game for his age. He isn't flashy but is a solid all around. He isn't just a workout warrior, he plays the game.
Sierra is expected to also carry a price tag that will probably approach one million.