International arms race for an ace: Anderson Espinoza, Christopher Acosta headline eight international amateur signings

August 15, 2014 - 3:10 pm

The Red Sox announced their first eight official international amateur signings of the year, headlined by a pair of right-handed pitchers who rank among the most impressive in this year's class. Both Anderson Espinoza and Christopher Acosta represent pitchers with the arsenals to suggest potential big league starters, with the projectability to suggest the possibility of pitchers capable of making a considerable impact in a rotation. The Sox regard the pair so highly that they were willing to blow past their allocated pool of approximately $1.9 million to do so. The team has signed Espinoza for $1.8 million and Acosta for $1.5 million. Not only will the team pay a 100 percent tax on its overage beyond the recommended bonus pool, but it will likewise punt on the opportunity to sign any international amateurs to bonuses in excess of $300,000 in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing seasons. That decision underscores the high regard in which the Sox hold Espinoza and Acosta, along with other players who have either signed or whose agreements are expected to become official once approved by Major League Baseball in the coming months. Anderson Espinoza: RHP, Venezuela 16 years old, 6-foot-1, 165 pounds Considered perhaps the best 16-year-old international amateur in this year's class, Espinoza is a strike-thrower who works fast, shows good feel for pitching and was ultra-competitive in games. He features an advanced three-pitch mix of a low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup. Christopher Acosta: RHP, Dominican Republic 16 years old, 6-foot-3, 220 pounds Acosta was also viewed as one of the top arms in this year's international amateur class, with a heavy 88-92 mph that has considerable movement from his low three-quarters arm slot. Like Espinoza, he's a strike-thrower who shows a feel for how to use his three-pitch mix. His changeup grades as above average, while his slider flashes potential. Roniel Raudes: RHP, Nicaragua 16 years old, 6-foot-1, 160 pounds Jhosmer Cortez: RHP, Nicaragua 16 years old, 6-foot-0, 160 pounds Raudes and Cortez are the Sox' first signings out of Nicaragua in recent years. Both are 16 with lean, projectable frames and quick arms. Raudes has a mid-80s fastball and a very good breaking ball with formidable mound presence. Cortez has a mid-80s fastball with sink from a three-quarters arm slot; hitters simply couldn't square up the offering. Nicolo Clemente: RHP, Italy 16 years old, 6-foot-0, 170 pounds Clemente is believed to represent the Sox' first signing in Italy. He's a six-footer with a quick arm. Luis Colmenares: LHP, Venezuela 16 years old, 6-foot-0, 175 pounds Colmenares came on late in the signing season, showing an 87-88 mph fastball and athleticism. While he'll likely enter the system as a starter, his likeliest long-term projection is as a reliever. Elwin Tejeda: 3B 16 years old, 6-foot-2, 155 pounds A lean, athletic third baseman who shows an advanced feel for hitting, squaring the ball up and using the whole field. He has an average arm at third, good hands and solid game makeup.