CLEVELAND – Dipping into the international market is a necessary starting point for piecing together a farm system.
The Indians went ahead and double-dipped into this pool of premium talent on Sunday afternoon.
Outfielder George Valera and shortstop Aaron Bracho will join the Cleveland pipeline in the coming days after signing $1.3-million and $1.5-million contracts respectively, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
With Baseball America ranking Valera fifth and Bracho 17th in this year’s class, the opportunity to ink a pair of deals was too much to pass up for the Tribe’s scouting department.
“George and Aaron project as high-ceiling offensive players with a combination of hit-ability and power to go along with athleticism,” said Paul Gillispie, the club’s senior director of international scouting. “We think they have the ability to impact the game both offensively and defensively.”
Although Valera is a 16-year-old born and raised in New York, he calls San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic his hometown. His well-rounded approach at the plate in the Dominican Prospect League was convincing to scouts, mainly through his combination to hit to all parts of the field while showing discipline and reaching base on walks. As a left-handed bat standing at 5-foot-11, Valera draws comparisons to Robinson Cano with his loose feel for the game.
Brancho is a 16-year-old switch-hitter from Tigrito, Venezuela that trained in the United States this past season at a number of Perfect Game events. Similar to Valera, he is an offensive-minded player still developing on the defensive side of the ball. As a 5-foot-10 infielder, Brancho could move to another position if the Indians see a better fit.
Other prospects joining the organization include infielder Cesar Idrogo (5-foot-10) and infielder Brayan Rocchio (5-foot-10) from Venezuela, and outfielder Marlin Made (5-foot-11), infielder Wilfri Peralta (6-foot) and infielder Jose Tena (5-foot-9) from the Dominican Republic.
All seven players are 16-years-old with the upside that Gillispie and his team have been searching for.
“We’re incredibly excited about this year’s signing class, and we’re looking forward to this group of players matriculating into our organization,” Gillispie said. “Our scouts have worked diligently over the last calendar year to identify and intimately know these players and we’re proud of the tireless effort they’ve put into the process.”