More On The A's Recent International Signees

As we reported last week, the Oakland A's have recently come to terms with five international free agents. We learned more about these newest members of the organization from A's Coordinator of International Operations/Baseball Operations Analyst Dan Kantrovitz. Click inside to learn more...

The Oakland A's have recently inked the following international free agents: Chih-Fang Pan, a 19-year-old shortstop from Taiwan; Hiram Martinez, a 17-year-old shortstop from Mexico; Rodolfo Penalo, a 17-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic; Dionicio Ramirez, a 17-year-old catcher from Venezuela (pending a physical); and Andres Avila, a 19-year-old right-handed pitcher from Mexico.

We recently asked A's Coordinator of International Operations/Baseball Operations Analyst Dan Kantrovitz about these players. Kantrovitz can't yet comment on Ramirez because his contract is pending a physical, but he was able to answer some questions about the other four free agent signees.

Is Chih-Fang Pan the team's first Taiwanese signee? Has he played professionally in Taiwan? What kind of player is he? Does he compare to fellow Taiwanese shortstops like Chin-Lung Hu, Yung-Chi Chen, etc.?

Dan Kantrovitz: I believe Pan is our first amateur signee from Asia. We have ramped-up our scouting infrastructure in the Pacific Rim and going forward, anticipate being a player for the top talent.

Adam Hislop, our scout based out of Taiwan, has been following Pan since high school. After visiting Taiwan last month, we decided that it was a good time to make an aggressive push to sign Chih-Fang. At the time of his signing, Pan was a 19-year-old freshman at one of the top college programs in Taiwan and had put together one of the more impressive performance resumes of any Taiwanese college player this year.

He's got the kind of speed that can impact the game and a glove/arm that profile at shortstop. As he matures and adds strength, we think his bat will play and that he will be a high on-base guy with a chance to be a disruptive force at the top of a lineup. We are excited to bring him over to the US this summer.

What kind of player is Hiram Martinez? He played in the Mexican rookie league this season. Is that where the team scouted him?

DK: Martinez is a projectable shortstop with above-average speed and a slick glove. Late last year, Craig Weissmann (our scout who covers Mexico) and I went down to cover the Mexican league for 16-17 year olds and Hiram's glove really stood out. With a batting average over .300 at the time of our visit, he was also the league leader in hitting. Since that trip, Craig checked-in on Hiram's progress a couple different times and was impressed with his development to the point where we offered him a contract last month. As of now, we plan to keep Hiram in the Mexican League this summer and bring him to the States for the summer of 2011.

Rodolfo Penalo is listed at 5'8'' on the Dominican Prospect League website. Do you project him to continue to grow? The website also claims that he rates as an 80 on the scouting scale for speed. Is that accurate? Do you see him as a shortstop or second baseman long-term?

DK: We view Penalo like a Joey Cora type of player – a guy with plus instincts, speed and the ability to adequately handle two of most demanding defensive positions on the diamond – second base and shortstop. When we scouted him in the Dominican, we saw a guy that played with fire and energy and knew how to use his speed. It's tough to say whether or not he will continue to grow, but we like what he brings to the table. And, yes it is true, Penalo does have the ability to flash a home-to-first running time equivalent with an 80 grade on the MLB scouting scale.

What kind of pitches does Andres Avila throw?

DK: Andres has a three-pitch mix – fastball/slider/change. He's got a lively fastball that he can run up to 92 MPH. His change has potential to be a plus out-pitch in the future. And his slider has a chance to be solid third pitch. He was pitching as a reliever in the Mexican League but we think he will have the most value if he is developed as a starter. He should be starting in the Dominican Summer League this summer.


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