July 2, 2014 at 1:30 PM
The Red Sox have signed 16-year-old Dominican right-hander Chris Acosta (pictured, right) for $1.5 million according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Venezuelan right-hander Anderson Espinoza has also reportedly signed for $1.8 million, according to Venezuelan journalist Rafael Tejera. Acosta is ranked as the top pitcher and sixth-best player available during this international signing period by MLB.com and 11th overall by Baseball America, while Espinosa is the ranked as the top pitcher and fourth overall by Baseball America, and 10th overall on MLB.com's rankings.
There are several pitchers considered at the top of the international market this year and Acosta is one of them. At a reported 6-foot-3', 170 pounds, he has a great pitcher's frame with room to grow and add weight. His current arsenal reportedly features a fastball that ranges from 88-92, a developing curveball, but his best pitch is his changeup. Ben Badler of Baseball America describes the pitch as, "one of the best changeups in the class, giving him a second lively pitch that he throws more frequently than most pitchers his age." MLB.com and Baseball America agree that one of the most appealing parts about Acosta is his current command and feel for pitching, which is incredibly advanced for his age.
Espinoza (pictured, left) will shatter the bonus record for a Venezuelan, which was formerly held by current Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez when he signed for $900,000. At only 5-foot-10 Espinoza has frequently been compared to former Red Sox pitcher and current adviser, Pedro Martinez, which is unfair for any young pitcher. Like Acosta, his command and feel for pitching has set him apart from other members of the class, but he is not short on pure stuff either. Espinoza has been throwing in the low 90s and topping out at 94 with potential to throw even harder as he grows. He has the reverse combination of secondary offerings to Acosta, with his curveball looking like a future plus pitch while his changeup is a work-in-progress.
After winning the World Series last year, the Red Sox bonus pool is only $1,881,700 and Acosta's and Espinoza's bonuses will already exceed that, totaling $3.3 million between them. Badler has been saying that the Red Sox intend to go well beyond their bonus pool this year, and if they went more than 15% over their pool amount they would face "the maximum penalty of a 100 percent tax on the overage and not being able to sign a player for more than $300,000 the next two signing periods." It seems that the Red Sox are willing to take on these penalties, and it will be interesting to see what, if any, other signings are yet to come.
Photo Credit: Chris Acosta and Anderson Espinoza by MLB.com.
Will Woodward is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.