(Here’s yesterday’s Mariners minor-league report).
The international signing period has begun, which means a feeding frenzy of teams locking up teen-age prospects from Latin America.
According to Baseball America’s Ben Badler, the Mariners have signed 6-foot-5, 195-pound outfielder Helsin Martinez for a $2 million bonus.
Badler says the 16-year-old Martinez, from the Dominican Republic, is a player “who many scouts consider to have the best righthanded power in Latin America among this year’s July 2-eligible players.” BA ranks him 11th among Latin prospects. They note his “tape-measure” power but say he has a hitch in his swing and trouble making contact at times.
Under international scouting director Bob Engle, the Mariners have been aggressive in Latin America. Last year, they paid $2.2 million to land Dominican outfielder Phillips Castillo, who according to Baseball America used the same trainer, Pedro Nivar, as Martinez. Castillo, 17, is currently hitting .333 in nine games in the Arizona League. Another top signee from the Dominican was outfielder Guillermo Pimentel in 2009. Pimentel, now 18, is at Class A Pulaski, a rookie level team, and leads them with a .341 average, three homers and 11 RBIs in 11 games. Most scouts rank Pimentel among the top Mariner prospects in their farm system.
The Mariners are listed by Baseball America as the frontrunner for the No. 1-ranked pitcher (and No. 3 overall prospect) from Latin America, right-hander Victor Sanchez of Venezuela. They say Sanchez will likely received a bonus in the neighborhood of $2.5 million.