Photo of George Bell by Kimberly Contreras

Spring plans for Oakland A's 2016 'July 2nd' class

The Oakland A's have put together their highest profile international amateur free agent signing class in more than five years. Where will those players start their 2017 seasons in the organization?

Over the weekend, the first wave of Oakland A's minor leaguers reported to the team's Mesa facility for the start of spring training as part of the A's spring mini-camp. On March 4, the A's will have their official report date for minor league pitchers and catchers, followed by an official report date for minor league position players on March 10. 

Not every player in the A's organization will report on those two dates. Some minor leaguers are kept back at home to continue rehabbing injuries. In other cases, prospects are invited to extended spring training -- rather than 'regular' spring training -- which begins at the start of the minor league regular season. Those invited to extended spring training are generally prospects very new to the organization who are slated to play in short-season ball rather than for a full-season league. While some participants in 'regular' spring training find themselves assigned to extended spring training at the conclusion of camp, most prospects who are in 'regular' spring training are there to compete for a spot on a full-season roster.

http://www.scout.com/mlb/athletics/story/1683361-a-s-go-big-with-july-2n... Some of the A's most high-profile new prospects won't be part of 'regular' spring training. The majority of the A's recent international signing class will instead report for extended spring training. OaklandClubhouse has learned that only pitcher Norge Ruiz and outfielder Enry Pantoja will be part of 'regular' spring training from the A's most recent international signing class. Prospects Lazaro ArmenterosGeorge BellYerdel VargasMarcos BritoKevin RichardsLuis Miguel Romero and Abdiel Mendoza will all report to extended spring training. According to A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman, a determination about whether those players will stay in Arizona for the Arizona Rookie League, go to Vermont for the short-season New York-Penn League or head to the Dominican for the Dominican Summer League will be made once the A's assess how far along each player is in his development.

Ruiz, a native of Cuba, is likely to compete for a spot on the Double-A Midland roster this spring. The soon-to-be 23-year-old has significant experience pitching on the international stage for team Cuba and he threw 14.1 innings in the Dominican Winter League this off-season, often matching up against hitters several years into their professional careers. Ruiz made 60 appearances in the Cuban Serie Nacional before defecting and had a career 2.55 ERA. He is expected to be developed as a starter. Ruiz signed for a reported $2 million bonus.

Pantoja, who also hails from Cuba, signed with the A's earlier this month. The centerfielder is only 20 and has just a handful of games played in the Serie Nacional under his belt. He played well in his limited time on that stage, hitting .304 with a .429 OBP in 19 games as a then-18 year old in 2015. If he makes a full-season roster, Pantoja is likely to start the season with Low-A Beloit.


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