It’s July 2nd and that means that Major League Baseball teams can officially begin signing international players again. Each team is given a spending pool amount and there are penalties if you go over them, but there are many teams that simply don’t care and spend five times their allotted amount and just deal with the penalties later (monetarily and by giving up the ability to sign big dollar guys the next year).
The Cincinnati Reds have one of the larger bonus pools available and they just agreed to spend nearly a third of it on 16-year-old outfielder Cristian Olivo. He’s a 6′ 2″ and 210 lb. center fielder (for now) who hits and throws from the left side.
He’s got plenty of bat speed to work with and projects to have power in the future, with some scouts saying it’s potentially plus. Olivo is currently a plus runner with a solid arm who could handle right field if he loses his speed with age and has to slide over to the corner.
The Reds have shied away from handing out seven figure signing bonus to international players since they went hog wild in 2008 and signed both Yorman Rodriguez and Juan Duran to $2.7M and $2M contracts that year. Olivo is the first time they’ve spent seven figures on a teenager outside of the draft since then, with the closest being the $730,000 they spent on LHP Jacob Constante in early 2013.
Olivo was ranked as the #23 prospect on the international market by MLB.com and he was ranked as the #25 prospect by Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs. Below is a video of the outfielder taken earlier this year.