The Rays have formally announced the signing of hard-throwing Cuban pitching prospect Sandy Gaston. The 16-year-old (17 in December) showcased for big league clubs at Marlins Park alongside Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. in early October and, as of last week, was reported to be nearing a deal with the Tampa Bay organization. Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald has previously reported that the would-be agreement was believed to include a hefty $2.6MM signing bonus. Slightly more specifically, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweets that the official bonus checks in at $2.61MM.
At last check, the Rays were reported to have about $3.5MM in their international bonus pool, meaning the signing of Gaston will account for the majority of their remaining resources. In return for their investment, the Rays will secure the rights to a young pitcher who ranked 16th among international prospects, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, and 24th on this year’s class in the eyes of Baseball America’s Ben Badler.
Already listed at 6’3″ and 205 pounds, Gaston’s greatest asset is a blazing fastball that routinely sits in the upper 90s and has reached 100 mph. His secondary offerings are said to lack consistency, as one might expect from a still-developing arm in his teens, and he’s still working to refine his command. Badler’s report on him notes that some scouts who’ve seen Gaston more recently have come away with the impression that his delivery is more under control, though he still notes that Gaston bears similarity to another flamethrowing teenager who has yet to pan out — former Marlins No. 2 overall draft pick Tyler Kolek. That’s not an indictment on Gaston’s future, of course, but rather a means of illustrating that there’s a fair bit of risk associated with Gaston despite his considerable upside.