Yesterday the Cincinnati Reds agreed to sign Cuban right handed pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez for $4.75M (and they will pay a $4.75M penalty to Major League Baseball as well). It was the second big signing of a Cuban born player this year. They also signed shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez (for $7M) back in July.
When the Reds decided to begin trading away some of their higher earning players in the offseason, one of the things that they stated is that they were going to invest the money in the amateur market. They held the second pick in the draft and had a competitive balance pick as well. They would wind up spending $11.4M on their first three picks, landing Nick Senzel, Taylor Trammell and Chris Okey in the first 43 selections of the draft.
For quite a while it seemed that only Alfredo Rodriguez was going to represent the spending on the international scene. While the Reds had shown interest in other players, they had pretty much only been linked with other Cuban players and no young international players of note from other countries. Not that there is anything wrong with that approach, but the general thought is that if you’re going to push past your international allotment and face penalties, you need to land more than one player and the Reds hadn’t done that. With the signing of Gutierrez that really changes things.
The team has now spent, with penalties paid to Major League Baseball for going over their spending limit, just over $18M on the international market this year. Combined with the draft, Bob Castellini has certainly opened his wallet to add to the organizations farm system. Hopefully this isn’t the last of the international signings. The organization has been linked to one other player out there still, Cuban Yanio Perez, but it’s been a while since we have heard anything on that front (not just from the Reds, but all teams).
Jumping into some specific thoughts on Vladimir Gutierrez, I thought he would sign for more money than he did. Purely looking at his scouting reports, there’s no way that you can convince me that he’s not a significantly better prospect than Alfredo Rodriguez is. Rodriguez seemed like an overpay from the very beginning, but Gutierrez seems like a steal at this price. If you had told me from the very beginning that the Reds would land these two players for $11.75M before penalties, I would have said that they did a good job. When looking at the overall picture that way, the signings look good. It’s just the way that they played out that is a little more confusing to me. Both players are certainly worth bringing in, and while I’ve been hard on the Reds for what they paid for Rodriguez, he’s certainly a prospect. He’s just one that I believe was paid more than his talents seem to be worth (and apparently just about everyone feels that way since I’ve yet to see someone, anywhere other than the Reds front office, who has said otherwise).
Gutierrez hasn’t officially signed his contract yet, and with the minor league season almost over I won’t be adding him into the prospect rankings until October when I unveil the new Top 25 list. With that said, as I sit right now, he will definitely rank higher than Alfredo Rodriguez and could possibly slot into the back half of the Top 10 depending on the reports that I get on some other guys when I check back in after the season.
Sal Romano’s dominance continues
Last night Sal Romano took the mound in Pensacola and he was outstanding. The big right hander fired 8.0 shutout innings, allowing just two hits, walking no one and he struck out six batters. Going back over his last 11 starts, Romano has posted a 1.79 ERA in 70.1 innings pitched. He’s walked just eight batters in that span and he’s struck out 65 while allowing just three home runs.
Hernan Iribarren named an International League All-Star
Hernan Iribarren has been under the radar a bit while playing for the Louisville Bats this season. Part of the reason for that is that he’s a 32-year-old utility player on a Triple-A team. Still, in 96 games played he’s hit .321/.375/.408. His .321 average is third in the league, trailing two players by one point. Yesterday the International League All-Star team was released and Iribarren was named to the squad as the utility player. He’s played every position on the field this season at least four times, including pitcher, with the exception of catcher. On the mound, for his career (all appearances have come with Louisville in the last three seasons), Iribarren has allowed just one run in 11.2 innings.