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Rusney Castillo linked to Cubs, White Sox, others

Cuban outfield prospect Rusney Castillo has been compared to Brett Gardner.

Others see him as a player similar to Jacoby Ellsbury. One scout compared him to Kenny Lofton.

What’s certain is the 27-year-old prospect is training in Florida, he’s ready to sign and will likely join a Major League team soon after his showcase on July 26 at the University of Miami. Castillo, who left Cuba six months ago, established residency in Haiti and was cleared by the U.S. Government to sign with a team last week. The 5-ft-9, 185 pound outfielder has also been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball.

The Cubs, White Sox, Braves, Red Sox, and Giants are among the team to have expressed interest in Castillo, according to industry sources, but scouts and front office executives from every team are expected at his workout next weekend.

Here’s what we know: Castillo is a right-handed hitter with power, has plus-plus speed and is viewed by some as a line-drive hitter. Scouts also like his athleticism. He’ll have to start the season in the Minor Leagues, but there’s a belief that he could be in the big leagues by the end of the season. He’s expected to compete for a starting job in Spring Training.

Castillo is represented by Roc Nation Sports, a joint venture between Roc Nation and CAA Sports.

Pirates sign seven 16-year-olds on July 2

The Pittsburgh Pirates had a busy day on Wednesday, signing  seven 16-year-olds on the first day to sign international free agents. These are the players:


Center fielder Yondry Contreras (Dominican Republic) for $400,000.

Left-handed pitcher Domingo Robles (Dominican Republic) for $175,000

Right-handed pitcher Jerry De Lo Santos (Dominican Republic) $100,000

Shortstop Christopher Perez (Dominican Republic) $150,000

Catcher Gabriel Brito (Dominican Republic) $200,000

Right-handed pitcher Brian Souse (Panama) $160,000

Left-handed pitcher Roger Santana (Dominican Republic) $100,000







Cuban INF prospect Yoan Moncada has left the island

yoanCubaA top prospect from Cuba has left the island and is poised to shake up the international signing period that starts Wednesday.

Yoan Moncada, 19, a switch-hitting infielder from the Cuban city of Cienfuegos, left the country legally earlier this month and is seeking residency in a country outside of the United States, the first step to becoming eligible for free agency, according to an industry source. Once Moncada establishes residency, the teenager must petition Major League Baseball for free agency and be unblocked by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before he can come into a final agreement with a club.

While many Cuban players are known to leave the island in late-night escapes or defect from the Cuban national team during an international tournament, the 6-ft-2, 205-pound Moncada was a granted his release from his Serie Nacional Cienfuegos team earlier this year and cleared by Cuba’s National Baseball Commission. He was granted a visa and a passport by the Cuban government and left on an airplane.

He is believed to be in the Dominican Republic or Mexico.

Moncada is expected to sign this year and will be subjected to the international signing guidelines because he is under 23 and has not playedyoanbats in a Cuban professional league for five or more seasons. The 2014-2015 international signing period officially starts on Wednesday but several agreements have been in place for several months.

Moncada, who also plays shortstop and third base, starred for Cuba’s top team of 15-and 16-year-olds and made a name for himself at the U-16 IBAF World Baseball Championships in Mexico.

He made his debut for Cienfuegos at age 17 and hit .277 in 367 during parts of two seasons and played alongside White Sox slugger Jose Abreu and Dodgers’ infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena.

Moncada was also teammates with Abreu, Arruebarrena, and other notable Cuban players like Yulieski Gourriel, Alfredo Despaigne, and Jose Miguel Fernandez on Cuba’s national team during the 2013 World Port Tournament in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Raisel Iglesias, who recently signed a seven-year, $27 million deal with the Reds, was also one of Moncada’s teammates.

Additionally, Moncada was on Cuba’s preliminary roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

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Penalties for clubs exceeding international bonus pools

Each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool based on the team’s record in 2013, a figure ranging from $5,015,400 for the Astros, who had the Majors’ lowest winning percentage last year, to $1,866,300 for the Cardinals, who had the highest winning percentage.

The signing bonus pools are made up of four slot values.


Teams that exceed the pools by 10 to 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.


In the most severe penalty, teams that exceed the pool by 15 percent or more are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods in addition to paying a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.


Teams that exceed the pools by 0 to 5 percent have to pay 100 percent tax and teams that exceed the pools by 5 to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.

Slot values for July 2 international signing period

Each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool based on the team’s record in 2013, a figure ranging from $5,015,400 for the Astros, who had the Majors’ lowest winning percentage last year, to $1,866,300 for the Cardinals, who had the highest winning percentage.

The signing bonus pools are made up of four slot values listed below. Clubs can acquire an additional 50 percent of their international bonus pool money by trading for slots.


1                              Astros              $3,300,900

2                              Marlins         $2,921,600

3                              White Sox     $2,585,800

4                              Cubs             $2,288,700

5                              Twins            $2,025,800

6                              Mariners        $1,792,900

7                              Phillies          $1,586,900

8                              Rockies        $1,404,500

9                              Blue Jays      $1,243,100

10                           Mets              $1,100,300

11                           Brewers         $1,026,600

12                           Padres           $957,900

13                           Giants            $893,800

14                           Angels            $833,900

15                           D-backs          $778,000

16                           Orioles            $726,000

17                           Yankees          $677,400

18                           Royals            $631,900

19                           Nationals         $589,600

20                           Reds               $550,100

21                           Rangers          $543,000

22                           Rays               $535,900

23                           Indians            $528,900

24                           Dodgers          $522,100

25                           Tigers             $515,300

26                           Pirates            $508,600

27                           Athletics          $501,900

28                           Braves            $495,400

29                           Red Sox          $488,900

30                           Cardinals        $482,700

31                           Astros             $476,300

32                           Marlins            $470,100

33                           White Sox        $464,100

34                           Cubs               $458,000

35                           Twins               $452,100

36                           Mariners          $446,200

37                           Phillies            $440,300

38                           Rockies           $434,600

39                           Blue Jays        $429,000

40                           Mets               $423,400

41                           Brewers          $417,800

42                           Padres           $412,500

43                           Giants            $407,100

44                           Angels           $401,800

45                           D-backs         $396,700

46                           Orioles           $391,500

47                           Yankees         $386,300

48                           Royals           $381,300

49                           Nationals       $376,500

50                           Reds             $371,500

51                           Rangers        $366,600

52                           Rays              $361,900

53                           Indians           $357,100

54                           Dodgers         $352,600

55                           Tigers             $347,900

56                           Pirates           $343,400

57                           Athletics         $339,000

58                           Braves           $334,600

59                           Red Sox         $330,200

60                           Cardinals       $325,900

61                           Astros            $321,600

62                           Marlins           $317,500

63                           White Sox       $313,400

64                           Cubs              $309,300

65                           Twins              $305,200

66                           Mariners         $301,300

67                           Phillies            $297,400

68                           Rockies          $293,500

69                           Blue Jays       $289,700

70                           Mets               $286,000

71                           Brewers         $282,200

72                           Padres           $278,500

73                           Giants            $274,900

74                           Angels           $271,300

75                           D-backs         $267,900

76                           Orioles           $264,300

77                           Yankees         $260,800

78                           Royals            $257,500

79                           Nationals         $254,100

80                           Reds               $250,900

81                           Rangers          $247,600

82                           Rays                $244,400

83                           Indians             $241,200

84                           Dodgers           $238,000

85                           Tigers               $234,900

86                           Pirates              $232,000

87                           Athletics            $228,900

88                           Braves              $225,900

89                           Red Sox            $222,900

90                           Cardinals          $220,100

91                           Astros               $216,600

92                           Marlins              $213,200

93                           White Sox          $209,900

94                           Cubs                 $206,700

95                           Twins                 $203,500

96                           Mariners            $200,300

97                           Phillies               $197,200

98                           Rockies             $194,100

99                           Blue Jays          $191,100

100                         Mets                  $188,100

101                         Brewers             $185,200

102                         Padres              $182,300

103                         Giants               $179,500

104                         Angels               $176,700

105                         D-backs             $174,000

106                         Orioles               $171,300

107                         Yankees             $168,600

108                         Royals                $166,100

109                         Nationals            $163,400

110                         Reds                   $160,900

111                         Rangers              $158,300

112                         Rays                   $155,900

113                         Indians                $153,500

114                         Dodgers              $151,100

115                         Tigers                  $148,800

116                         Pirates                 $146,400

117                         Athletics               $144,100

118                         Braves                 $142,000

119                         Red Sox               $139,700

120                         Cardinals             $137,600

Money your team is alloted during international signing period

Each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool based on the team’s record in 2013, a figure ranging from $5,015,400 for the Astros, who had the Majors’ lowest winning percentage last year, to $1,866,300 for the Cardinals, who had the highest winning percentage.

The signing bonus pools listed below are made up of four slot values.

1    Astros    $5,015,400
2    Marlins    $4,622,400
3    White Sox    $4,273,200
4    Cubs    $3,962,700
5    Twins    $3,686,600
6    Mariners    $3,440,700
7    Phillies    $3,221,800
8    Rockies    $3,026,700
9    Blue Jays    $2,852,900
10  Mets    $2,697,800
11  Brewers    $2,611,800
12  Padres    $2,531,200
13  Giants    $2,455,300
14  Angels    $2,383,700
15  D-backs    $2,316,600
16  Orioles    $2,253,100
17  Yankees    $2,193,100
18  Royals    $2,136,800
19  Nationals    $2,083,600
20  Reds    $2,033,400
21  Rangers    $2,015,500
22  Rays    $1,998,100
23  Indians    $1,980,700
24  Dodgers    $1,963,800
25  Tigers    $1,946,900
26  Pirates    $1,930,400
27  Athletics    $1,913,900
28  Braves    $1,897,900
29  Red Sox    $1,881,700
30  Cardinals    $1,866,300

Stay tuned for the launch of’s Top 30 international prospects for July 2 on Prospect Watch.

Cuba’s Carbonell weighing offers from five teams

Cuban outfielder Daniel Carbonell is free to sign with a Major League club, but is waiting on the right deal before he commits, according to an industry source.

Carbonell, 23, is said to be weighing contract offers from five different teams with terms that vary in length from five to seven years. The outfielder is seeking a four-year deal, the source said. He is currently working out in Merida, Mexico.

On Saturday, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the Yankees and Mariners are the finalists to sign the switch-hitting outfielder. However, Seattle and New York are not believed to be among the teams to make the player a formal offer.

The Braves, Red Sox, and White Sox were among the first teams to show interest in outfielder earlier in the year, but the teams are not among the favorites to sign him. The Dodgers are also not among the finalists.

Considered a five-tool player by some scouts, the 6-ft-3, 220-pound outfielder is known for his speed and power. He played four seasons for Camaguey in Cuba’s Serie Nacional before defecting from Cuba last winter, but will need to sign by July 2 or he will be subjected to the international signing guidelines established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Starting in July, Cuban players must be at least 23 years old and have played at least five seasons in a Cuban professional league to be exempt from the international signing guidelines.

Carbonell‘s contract would count against a team’s allotted bonus pool for next year’s international signing period if he does not sign by July 2.

Braves to sign Cuban catcher Bello

The Braves are finalizing a Minor League deal with Cuban catching prospect Yenier Bello, according to an industry source.

The agreement includes a signing bonus and an invite to Spring Training. The Braves have not confirmed the deal.

Bello, 29, hit .274 with 13 home runs in Cuba’s La Serie Nacional, the country’s top baseball league, in 2011. He hit 75 home runs and drove in 297 runs in his last five seasons in Cuba, primarily with Sancti Spíritus.

The Braves intend on using Evan Gattis as their starting catcher for approximately 105 games this season with Gerald Laird, who is currently day-to-day with a lower back strain, serving as his primary backup. Ryan Doumit can also catch and Christian Bethancourt, 22, who spent the last two seasons at Double-A, appears to be the catcher of the future.

Bello will likely start the season in the Minor Leagues. It’s already been quite a ride for 5-ft-11, 225-pound backstop.

The right-handed hitter was caught attempting to escape from Cuba in 2012, immediately suspended from baseball on the island and then had his passport confiscated. Last spring, he retired from baseball and traveled to Ecuador when his passport was given back to him.

Bello never returned to Cuba and later established residency in Mexico, the first step to being declared a free agent by Major League Baseball. He was cleared by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) last month. He is represented by Bryce Dixon of the Primo Sports Group.

Arruebarruena: When will he sign with Dodgers?

Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena is only a few steps away from becoming the newest member of the Dodgers.

According to industry sources, the 23-year old has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and was cleared by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to enter into a contract with a Major League club after he established residency in Haiti.

The infielder is currently working out in the Dominican Republic and is waiting on a P-1 work Visa before he can finalize what is expected to be a five or six-year deal worth $25 million with Los Angeles. The Dodgers, who also signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to a four-year, $28 million contract this winter, have not confirmed the Arruebarruena signing.

“We signed Alexander and we’re trying to sign another player because it’s tough in the Draft to find those players,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said at the second annual Cactus League Media Day on Tuesday. “You are pretty limited in the Draft as far as good hitters that can play in the middle of the infield. The way we look at it, we have the need for it in our organization and we’ve gone after them the way we have.”

Known for his defense, Arruebarruena is a right-handed hitter and natural shortstop but he can also play second base. He played with Yasiel Puig and White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu in Serie Nacional, the island’s top professional league, and was also member of Cuba’s 2013 World Baseball Classic team. The 6-ft, 195-pound infielder played in several international tournaments as member of the island’s national team.

Arruebarruena’s addition could add more intrigue to an already interesting competition for playing time in the infield. On Wednesday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he would be open to a platoon at second base because of Guerrero’s slow transition from playing shortstop in Cuba to second base in the United States.

July 2 prospect Yirver Gilbert Lara and Brewers?

There are reports that the Brewers have a deal in place with July 2 infield prospect Yirver Gilbert Lara for $3.2 million. I spoke with Lara’s trainer Jaime Ramos and he said the Brewers, Royals, Yankees and Twins are among the teams competing for his player but he does not have a deal in place.

“I read that (about Milwaukee) but there is nothing concrete and there are still a lot of teams interested in him,” Ramos said from the Dominican Republic. “We still have to go to the United States and visit some teams.  I don’t have 100-percent agreement with anyone. Maybe in March or April, I’ll make a deal.”

Like last year, the amount of money clubs will be allowed to spend on international prospects this year on July 2 will be based largely on their records last season. Last summer, the pools for each team ranged from an estimated $4.9 million (for the lowest winning percentage) to $1.8 million (for the highest winning percentage). Like last year, clubs will be allowed to trade pool money.

Here are the guidelines for signing a prospect: A 16-year-old international player can sign during the period that extends from July 2 through June 15 of next year if the prospect turns 17 before Sept. 1 of this year or by the completion of his first Minor League season. Additionally, any prospect that is already 17 or older and has not previously signed a Major or Minor League contract, resides outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and has not been enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico within the previous year is eligible to sign during the period.



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