Tuesday was the first day clubs could sign international players, and the A’s did their part.
First they signed Jesus Lopez, a switch-hitting shortstop out of Nicaragua, for $950,000 and they came back by signing Carlos Hiciano, a switch-hitting shortstop from the Dominican Republic for $750,000.
Both are 16, and the combined $1.7 million the A’s used to sign them consumes most of the $1.926 bonus pool allotment the A’s had been given for international signings.
I’m not going to pretend I know much about either player, so I’ll leave it to Ben Badler from Baseball America who knows much more about the players involved than I to give a scouting report (you can follow him on Twitter at @BenBadler):
Badler on Lopez: “Lopez excels at hitting. He has been switch-hitting for about a year, and some scouts already like his lefty stroke better than his natural right-handed swing. He has a clean, compact swing with good bat path and instincts, and some scouts regard him as one of the top hitters in Latin America. He has gap power now and projects to hit 10-15 home runs a year eventually. He has international experience as well, playing for the Nicaraguan team that hosted the 14U Pan American Championship in 2010.
“Lopez has good body control, but he’s a below-average runner without a quick first step or much athleticism, so shortstop probably isn’t an option. His arm is also a little below average, so second base seems like his most likely option. Lopez, who trains with former scout Wilfredo Blanco, has a lot of similarities to Alberto Callaspo.’’
Badler on Hiciano: “Hiciano has plus-plus speed, a strong arm and a broad, projectable frame. Shortstop doesn’t seem to come naturally to him, as he doesn’t have true infield actions, but he has the speed, athleticism and arm strength to stay at a premium position in center field.
“Hiciano’s hitting mechanics can be inconsistent, but scouts who like him have seen him hit in games with doubles power. He has squared up balls with authority against live pitching in front of some executives, which has helped his stock with certain teams. With his tall, lean frame, he has the projection to add strength and hit for more power down the road.’’