Continuing their efforts to once again become a force in the international market, the San Francisco Giants have announced the signing of 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Rafael Rodriguez.
Rodriguez will receive a $2.55 million signing bonus after inking the deal on his 16th birthday two days ago. The signing bonus is the second largest of all-time behind pitcher Michel Inoa, who received a $4.25 million bonus from the Oakland A's in June.
"He is one of the better position players on the international market this year," Giants Scouting Director John Barr said in a press release. "We scouted him extensively this season with many people on our staff evaluating him. To a man, we all agree that Rafael is the type of player that we want to bring into the Giants organization."
The 6-foot-5, 198 pound outfielder has drawn raves from the Giants front office. A right-handed batter, he has very good raw power and a frame that will gain weight as he gets older. He has above-average speed and is very solid defensively.
"He's obviously going to get a lot bigger and stronger than he is right now," said Giants adviser and former manager Felipe Alou, who has seen Rodriguez play against older competition. "I haven't seen him swing and miss yet."
Barr has said the Giants will treat Rodriguez much like the organization did when they signed third baseman Angel Villalona in 2006. He expects the outfielder to take part in the Giants' instructional league in Arizona that begins in September. He will then make his professional debut in 2009.
Rodriguez joins right-handed pitcher Luis Mateo, a fellow 16-year-old Dominican, who signed with the Giants earlier this month.