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Marlins sign a top Venezuelan shortstop


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Florida Marlins sign a top Venezuelan shortstop

July 15, 2007


MIAMI GARDENS The Marlins made a significant acquisition on the international front, plucking away one of Venezuela's top two amateur shortstops.


Maracay product Jose Miguel Torres, 16, agreed to terms with the Marlins on July 2, the first day major league teams were able to sign non-draft eligible international players.


"We got who we feel is the best shortstop in this year's crop and the consensus among baseball scouts is he's one of the top two [in Venezuela]," said Albert Gonzalez, the Marlins director of international operations. "This kid can play. He's a switch hitter. In my report I wrote he would probably win a Gold Glove one year. He's that type of defender already."


Gonzalez compared the 6-foot, 160-pound Torres, to a young Alex Gonzalez. The gloves and foot speed are comparable at the same age, but Gonzalez projects Torres will hit more doubles and for a higher average.


"He's more of what I call a skilled player versus a guy that's just full of tools," Gonzalez said. "He has tools, but he's also well-advanced in terms of game awareness."


Gonzalez pointed to a couple of pluses in the Marlins standing out among a crowded field of suitors. Area scout Wilmer Castillo lives close to Torres and followed him the last two years. Venezuelan scouting supervisor Carlos Acosta also did invaluable work.


"The other factor is Miguel Cabrera," Gonzalez said, of the superstar who also hails from Maracay. "[Torres] is a confident kid and feels like he's going to play next to Miguel Cabrera someday."


Some teams projected Torres as an offensive second baseman. That would suit the Marlins just as well considering his defensive aptitude.


The plan is for Torres to work out of the Marlins' Dominican academy this summer. If he can secure a passport in time, the Marlins would like him to attend minicamp in September in Jupiter.


Gonzalez would not reveal terms of the deal, but a National League source who was monitoring Torres said he signed for $250,000. That's the equivalent of what a fourth-round pick would command.

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I think that might just have been us not having a VSL team this year, which was probably just due to us not really needing one currently (all our good Venezuelan prospects made it to Jupiter). I dont think there have been any other changes. There hasnt been much talk about our DSL team, but there arent really any performances there so far worth mentioning yet so that isnt surprising.


6th rounder Taiwan Easterling is saying now he is definitely staying at FSU and not signing, so hopefully the 125k or so we saved there is being spent on international signings.

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