Cincinnati’s top three prospects garnered so much attention this spring that Johnny Cueto’s dominant debut on Thursday caught even some well-informed baseball watchers by surprise. The 22-year old Dominican, who began last year in Single A, seemed to explode upon the major leagues as Athena did from the head of Zeus: fully formed, and from a very unexpected place.
If you’re a GM, just how do you get your mitts on a talent like Cueto’s? Courtesy of Reds Insider, we have a peek at the story of the scouting and signing of the Reds rookie (is it still too soon to call him a "phenom"?). Cincinnati’s then-director of international operations, Johnny Almaraz, squeezed in an early-morning look at Cueto before his flight out of the Dominican Republic. Liking what he saw, he signed the 18-year old righty for $3.5K. (For contrast, the following year the Mets signed 16-year old Fernando Martinez for $1.4MM. That’s quite a differential.)
The full story, by John Fay, will appear in tomorrow’s Cincinnati Enquirer.