... such as right-hander Merkin Valdez, who has been inked to a minor league deal six days after opting out of his minor league deal with Triple-A Albuquerque (Dodgers), where he had posted a 3.58 ERA with a 0.2 HR/9 (not an accomplishment to be overlooked, given the homer-friendly nature of Albuquerque's home ballpark), 4.3 BB/9, and 7.7 K/9 in 50.1 innings. It's very doubtful that we see him at the major league level this season, but he does have some major league innings on his arm, so he has that going for him. He's also named Merkin, which I consider another plus.
More significant, however, is that the Rangers have officially signed Venezuelan left-hander Yohander Mendez (6' 5", 175 lb.) and outfielder Eduard Pinto (5' 10", 155 lb.) to add to their growing collection of Latin American prospects from this year's July 2nd signing period. Here's what I had written about Mendez about three weeks ago:
This signing has yet to be confirmed by an English-speaking source, but there have been multiple Twitter-based reports out of Latin America suggesting that the Rangers have signed Mendez to a seven-figure bonus; this wouldn't come as an immense surprise if true, as he has been prominently linked to the Rangers by Baseball America. The story here is, of course, one of projection: his mechanics are described as smooth and fluid (which is unusual for most pitchers of his size), and he brandishes a solid mid-to-high-80s heater with good arm action, as well as a curveball and a change-up that he has reportedly shown some feel for.
If the fastball can develop to the point that it reaches the low-90s (or higher?) with consistency, and his command and off-speed stuff can develop correspondingly, he will prove to be a very alluring player to follow as he ascends through the system. If those tools don't properly develop, the likelihood is that he'll stall developmentally, which occurs all too often with young talent procured both internationally and domestically. It is what it is, and the reality is that failure could very easily strike every name listed here, as well. The other reality of this game, though, is that you don't have to hit on every player, or even most players, or even some players ... because it requires only one or two big successes to justify all of the vast resources poured into the amateur talent markets.
I know nothing whatsoever about Pinto, beyond the fact that he played for Magallanes in last year's Venezuelan Winter League and the fact that he's a bit on the small side physically. I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and suggest that his defensive skill set and/or hit tool have a better chance of being calling cards for him than the future projection on the power tool.
Update No. 1: Jeff Wilson tweets that Mendez gets $1.5 million (not surprising, given that he was apparently the top lefty in this year's July 2nd class) and Pinto gets $300,000.
Update No. 2: More info from Ben Badler and the Baseball America crew:
Mendez's bonus surprised some international scouts because his fastball is mostly in the mid-to-high 80s right now, though he does have a clean delivery, projectable size, and some feel for his secondary pitches. Pinto played against professional competition last winter for the Navegantes in the Liga Paralela (the minors of the Venezuelan League) and hit .329/.396/.409 in 164 at-bats.
One of the players with better feel for the game than most is Eduar Pinto, a lefthanded Venezuelan outfielder. Pinto played in the Liga Paralela (the minor leagues of the Venezuelan League) last winter as a 15-year-old. Against professional competition, he hit .329/.396/.409 in 164 at-bats for the Navegantes, with 19 walks and 11 strikeouts. Pinto doesn't have great size and his power is limited, but his feel for hitting and putting the bat to the ball are well beyond his years. His speed is also an asset.