Oakland A's MLN: International Signings

Last week, the Oakland A's announced the signing of Joel Galarraga out of the Mexican Summer League. This week, the A's have come to terms with another prospect from Latin America. We have more information on Galarraga and on the newest A's international signing inside…

When the Oakland A's released their non-roster invite list for major league spring training last week, there was one unfamiliar name on the list: catcher Joel Galarraga. Galarraga, a native of Cuba, is a catcher who has spent the past few years playing the Mexican Summer League. We recently learned more about Galarraga from Oakland A's Assistant General Manager David Forst.

According to Forst, Galarraga, 26, was first spotted while playing for Minatitlan over the summer by A's scout Craig Weissman, who has signed top prospects Trevor Cahill and James Simmons for the A's, among others. Galarraga hit .318 with a .416 OBP last season and .356 with a .410 OBP in 2007 in Mexico. According to Forst, Weissman believes that Galarraga's skills are advanced enough to start next season as high as Triple-A and he could be ready for consideration for a major league spot later this season.

Forst also clarified Galarraga's contractual situation. The A's have paid a fee to Galarraga's Mexican League team to bring him to spring training, just as they have done the past two years with right-hander Arnold Leon. If the A's like what they see in Galarraga this spring, they can elect to pay another fee to Galarraga's Mexican League team to buyout his contract. Unlike with Leon in 2008, the A's will not have to lend Galarraga back to his Mexican team halfway through the season if they buyout his contract.

OaklandClubhouse.com also learned that the A's came to terms this week with a 17-year-old pitcher out of the Dominican Republic named Jose Enriquez Castillo. According to A's Director of Player Personnel Billy Owens, Castillo worked out at the A's Dominican complex in November. During those tryouts, Castillo's fastball was clocked consistently in the 90-92 MPH range and he touched 93. Owens also indicated that Castillo has a developing breaking ball that the A's think has room for improvement and a good feel for a change-up, especially for a pitcher of Castillo's age. Owens compared Castillo's build to former A's pitcher Joaquin Andujar.

"We're encouraged by his present arsenal and his now feel for the strike zone," Owens said.

"Jose seemed to be a mature, focused kid with a power arm. We're excited to put him into our system and we will continue to look for opportunities in Latin America."

Winter League Updates

A's infield prospect Gregorio Petit is having a strong season for the Leones del Caracas. Petit is batting .301 with a .357 OBP over 46 games. He has been particularly hot over the past 10 games, batting .324 with a homer, seven runs scored and eight RBIs. Outfielder Matt Murton was a teammate of Petit's earlier this winter. In 15 games for the Leones, Murton hit .321 with two homers and a .463 OBP. Minor league free agent Brad Knox made his first appearance with the Leones on the 14th, allowing one earned run in three innings. He struck-out three and walked one.

Hard-throwing right-hander Henry Rodriguez is also completing in Venezuela this winter. He has made 12 relief appearances for the Aguilas del Zulia. He has struggled for much of the winter. In 11.2 innings, Rodriguez has a 7.71 ERA. He has allowed 12 hits and 13 walks and has struck-out 16.

Arnold Leon has been struggling as well. He has been competing in the Mexican Winter League. Over his last 10 outings, he has a 5.19 ERA and he has walked five in 8.2 innings. In 18 innings for the winter, Leon has a 4.50 ERA and 11 walks against 14 strike-outs. Leon walked only 11 in 43 innings during the 2008 regular season.

A's reliever Santiago Casilla has been a star for the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League. In eight appearances, he has yet to allow an earned run. Over 8.1 innings, Casilla has given up only three hits and two walks. He has struck-out eight. Casilla has four saves for the Leones.

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