International Signing Day - Royals Sign Top Italian Prospect

Giorgio Cosulich

Italian shortstop Marten Gasparini commands the largest signing bonus out of any European prospect ever, and is ranked as the 12th best international prospect by Baseball America. Royals also sign 22nd-ranked outfielder Cristhian Vasquez.

Today is International Signing Day, the day clubs can sign international (non-American/Puerto-Rican, non-Canadian) amateur free agents. In the past, Dayton Moore has found players like Salvador Perez, Yordano Ventura, Cheslor Cuthbert, Orlando Calixte, Adalberto Mondesi, Elier Hernandez, and Noel Arguelles. The Royals have generally been fairly aggressive in Latin America, at least in stark contrast to the Allard Baird days when the team was not allowed to spend even a peso on any players south of the border.

The Royals have again been aggressive, landing two of the top twenty-five international prospects.

Some scouts have called the Italian-born Gasparini the "best European prospect ever." Even better than Alex Liddi! Gasparaini is a 16 year old switch-hitting shortstop from the northeast Italian town of Alture. He is a bit raw, but has terrific speed and good gap power. Ben Badler had a write-up on him a month ago for Baseball America.

If a team is willing to spend more than $1 million on Gasparini, it’s likely that organization will let him start his career at shortstop. He has good range up the middle, although making plays on balls hit to his right are more of a challenge because of his arm strength. Scouts give him a 40 to 50 arm on the 20-80 scale and have concerns about his throwing mechanics, which is why some think he might be a better fit in center field. Yet while some scouts last year thought he was a surefire center fielder, now those same evaluators believe it’s a coin flip whether he will have to change positions.
"His arm action is a short arm action with a little funk to it, so I’m not sure if you can project it enough to play the shortstop position," said one scout. "But he’s athletic and he has really good actions for a kid coming from that area. You look at that kid and you can compare him to some of the really smooth actions coming out of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela."

Jonathan Mayo adds:

The teenager has a smooth swing, and although it could use some work, most believe his bat will improve with age and instruction. On defense, Gasparini has shown good hands, nice range and solid footwork, but is far from a finished product

Video here.

The Royals also inked outfielder Cristian Vasquez out of Venezuela. Vasquez is the 22nd ranked prospect by Baseball America.

The Royals have an international signings bonus pool of $2.988 million.

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