A's Ink Three On International Signing Day

The Oakland A's won't be getting the headlines on July 2nd for their international signings that they did last season when the team inked top international talent Michael Ynoa, but the team has come to terms with three promising prospects that they believe will make an impact as they develop. We caught-up with A's Director of Player Personnel Billy Owens to learn more about the signings...

On Thursday morning, the Oakland A's announced the signing of three Venezuelan prospects: infielders Wilfredo Solano and Wilman Jose "Junior" Martinez and outfielder Alfredo Sosa. Thursday was the first day of the international signing period, when teams are allowed to ink international players who are at least 16. This day is popularly known as the July 2nd signing day.

Of the three, Solano was the biggest name heading into the international signing period. He was projected to receive the 21st highest signing bonus on July 2nd of any international signing by Baseball America.

A's Director of Player Personnel Billy Owens had this to say about Solano:

"Wilfredo Solano is a sweet swinging middle infielder that switch hits. He has a line drive stroke with extension from both sides of the plate. Definite power potential," Owens said.

"[Defensively,] he has soft hands in the field and a solid throwing arm."

Solano was born on January 15, 1993 and is a native of Caracas, Venezuela. He has played both shortstop and third base, and he is listed as being 6'1'', 180 pounds.

Junior Martinez is a third baseman from Valencia, Venezuela. He was born on January 13, 1993. The right-hander, who is listed as being 6'1'', 185, was described by Owens as being "a natural third-baseman."

"He is a solid defender. Cradles the baseball instinctively at the hot corner and has a howitzer for a throwing arm," Owens said.

Offensively, Owens described Martinez as having a "power-oriented swing."

"We saw this kid hit numerous balls out of the Valencia field where the Magallanes Winter Team plays. He is a potential right-handed power bat," Owens said.

Alfredo Sosa, an outfielder, is a native of Guige (Valencia), Venezuela. Born on January 18, 1993, Sosa is listed as being 6'1'', 165. A right-handed hitter, Sosa is a potential five-tool prospect, according to Owens.

"He has a definite plus throwing arm. We timed him at 4.7 in the 40 yard dash, which is above average for a 16 year old player," Owens said.

"He has a line-drive oriented approach and is an ultra-aggressive player. He has the requisite footspeed and arm strength to stay in CF. Power is always the last thing to come but should be a part of Sosa's package."

Solano, Martinez and Sosa are not eligible to participate in this year's Dominican Summer League, but they are going to travel to the A's Dominican Academy in La Victoria to workout with the rest of the A's Latin American program. They will most likely participate in the A's Dominican Instructional League, much like Michael Ynoa did last season.

The A's Dominican Summer League program has a different look this year. Rather than carrying two DSL teams, as the A's have traditionally done in the past, Oakland is fielding only one Dominican club. According to Owens, this was done so that the A's could spend more of their resources on signing international talent rather than expending some of those resources fielding an extra DSL team.

The A's DSL team is off to a slow start this season. They are in last place in the DSL Santo Domingo North Division, with an 8-20 record. A number of the A's high-profile Latin American signings from last season are a part of this team, including catcher Diego Ledezma, outfielder Jose Sayegh, shortstops Franklin Contreras and Jensi Peralta and pitchers Anderson Fortuna and Elihoref Suniaga.

Of this group, only Suniaga has distinguished himself thus far, with a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings pitched. Fortuna has a 8.59 ERA in 14.2 innings, while Peralta is batting .213, Sayegh is batting .171, Contreras is batting .163 and Ledezma is batting .154. Kelvin Rojas has been the team's offensive leader, with a .351 average and a 987 OPS in 26 games. He also leads the team with three homers.

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