The White Sox have agreed to terms with Johan Cruz, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic.
Cruz, 16, is 6-foot-1, 175 pounds and has stood out in the field with good hands, footwork and arm strength. He's a righthanded hitter from Puerto Plata who trained with Victor Baez.
Baseball America, in its international prospects review, placed Cruz in the "more players to watch" section. According to scouts, he's one of the better defensive shortstops in the group, more steady than flashy. While his bat lags behind his defense, he's made strides. Of course, he's only 16.
It's the Sox's most notable international signing since signing Venezuelan right-handed pitcher Luis Martinez over the winter, shortly after the White Sox hired Marco Paddy to take control of the Latin American operations. Martinez signed for $250,000; Cruz's terms have not been disclosed.
In an offseason interview, scouting director Doug Laumann said that the new CBA would level the playing field in terms of money, allowing the Sox to compete "scouting staff versus scouting staff." The new rules figured to benefit the Sox in general (they were 29th in spending the last two years), and especially so for their efforts in the Dominican Republic, where the Sox's operation never recovered from the David Wilder scandal.
BA's international signing preview had the Sox targeting Cruz, so it might be worth noting that it expects the Sox to spread out their money over several mid-range players.