Blue Jays sign 7 international prospects to contracts
When Toronto Blue Jays scouts first saw Roberto Osuna pitch, they knew the team had to have him.
The club got their man Tuesday, signing the 16-year-old Mexican right-hander and six other international prospects to contracts.
Blue Jays director of Latin America operations Marco Paddy saw Osuna for the first time almost two years ago at a competition for the Mexican national team.
Paddy and his scouts have followed Osuna's progress ever since.
"When you see him at 16 years of age and his ability to pitch competively now — obviously he had to be a great attraction to a lot of other clubs," Paddy said on a conference call Tuesday. "But I would say he was the one guy that the minute we saw, that he was a guy that we had to go after."
Also agreeing to terms with Toronto were Venezuelan outfielders Wuilmer Becerra and Jesus Gonzalez, along with Venezuelan righty Manuel Cordova.
Right-handers Alberto Tirado and Yeyfry Del Rosario and left-hander Jairo Labourt, all of the Dominican Republic, were also signed.
Osuna, the nephew of former major league pitcher Antonio Osuna, was ranked fourth by Baseball America in the projected signing bonus rankings.
Becerra was ranked fifth, Gonzalez 21st and Cordova 33rd.
Of the five pitchers Toronto signed Tuesday, Paddy said Osuna is the most advanced, but that doesn't mean the other four won't develop into major leaguers.
"These are guys that very well can come in and start their career next year and start moving up through the [farm] system," he said. "You don't want to put a timetable on how soon they're going to be able to help our major league club.
"But I think that in the scheme of things the group of guys we signed are very well advanced and can move though the system just as quick as anyone else."