TORONTO -- The new spending rules and caps for the international signing market didn't change the Tigers' usual strategy once the signing period opened on Tuesday. They've often preferred signing several mid-range prospects and under-the-radar talents rather than dedicating big money toward one or two top-ranked players, preferring strength in numbers.
Thus, though Detroit entered the international signing period with one of the smaller bonus pools among Major League clubs, the team still pulled off four signings, three of them from the Venezuelan market they've turned to for several prospects over the last few years.
The most mentioned name of the quartet is Elys Escobar, a 16-year-old catching prospect from Valencia, Venezuela. Baseball America tabbed Escobar as the third-ranked catcher available from that country, noting his strong arm and defensive skill set along with some power at the plate. Escobar reportedly signed for $350,000.
Dominican shortstop Hector Martinez signed for $400,000, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez confirmed. The nephew of Vladimir and Wilton Guerrero was an All-Star in this year's Dominican Prospect League, showing an advanced, aggressive bat and some foot speed along with raw athleticism.
Two other Venezuelan signings, outfielder Hector Hernandez and shortstop Anthony Pereira, weren't as well known but still had the Tigers' interest. Hernandez is a left-handed-hitting outfielder with advanced speed and some power, while Pereira is more of a long-term project as he grows physically and adds strength to his fluid athleticism.
All of the signings must be approved by Major League Baseball, pending a standard identity check and age confirmation.