March 16, 2012 at 2:06 PM
The Red Sox have agreed to a deal with right-hander Simon Mercedes for an $800,000 bonus, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. Mercedes most recently played in the Dominican Prospect League in January 2011, but was ineligible to sign for a year after an investigation into his background by Major League Baseball.
The deal is still pending approval from the league, which may be more than a formality.
Shortly after he pitched in the Dominican Prospect League All-Star game on January 29, 2011, Mercedes signed a $400,000 deal with the San Francisco Giants. However, MLB declared him ineligible to sign for one year following an investigation in March, a ban that ended this Wednesday. A couple years earlier he had gone from being a 16-year-old named Jeffrey Tapia to an 18-year-old named Simon Mercedes. It is unclear whether this identity change led directly to the ban, and the league has not publicly stated the reason for the sanction against Mercedes.
Currently listed at 20 years of age, he was one of the top international players eligible to sign before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement rules take effect. He has a large frame at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, and features a power arm with a fastball that ranges from 92-96 mph. Scouts have also said that his breaking ball has shown flashes of being average-to-above-average. With a sturdy build, he has potential to stick as a starter down the road, but he is still very raw and will need to smooth out his delivery.
Matt Huegel is Senior Editor for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattHuegelSP.