As you might recall from my recap of Monday's minor league presentation at the Winter Warm-Up, Jeff Luhnow singled out three "premium players" – Rómulo Ruiz, Fredrick Parejo and Juan Castillo – who were signed by the club out of Latin America on July 2nd. That is the date which 16-year-olds become eligible to sign for the first time. Luhnow said they "are exciting prospects worth keeping and eye on and should be in the US by next year at the latest."Shortstop Rómulo RuizBrian Walton actually reported the signing of Ruiz, along with five other Venezuelans, back in July. A converted catcher, Ruiz received the largest signing bonus the Cardinals have ever given a Venezuelan or a July 2nd player. He is a plus shortstop with a plus arm, a good runner and he has the potential for a plus bat with power. According to Luhnow, Ruiz will most likely handle the everyday shortstop duties for the VSL team in 2007."Romulo Ruiz is an exciting shortstop prospect," Luhnow told Walton at the time. "I saw many of the players that were signed for six figures in both Venezuela and the Dominican Republic this year, and in my opinion, he was one of the best."Thanks to the support from ownership and their commitment to the international program, we were able to compete against several other teams that had an interest and land him. His contract was signed at 12:01 a.m. on July 2nd, as is tradition for many of the top players."Ruiz played in 25 games for the Parallel League Cardinals this winter, but hit just .190.Centerfielder Fredrick ParejoAccording to Luhnow, Parejo is a true center fielder and will be given every chance to win a spot in the GCL at the age of 17 in 2007. He hit .221 in 43 games for the Parallel League Cardinals.Though I have been unable to confirm it, Luhnow said on Monday that Parejo has a brother in the Marlins minor league system and he thinks his father played in the big leagues.
Catcher Juan CastilloA catcher with a plus arm and potential plus bat, Castillo was signed out of the Dominican Republic. He is slated to be the starting catcher for the DSL Cardinals in 2007.
Jason Scott can be reached via email at email@example.com.© 2007 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.