The Houston Astros reportedly are planning to sign 21-year-old Cuban star Pedro Leon in July, per Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN:
Kiley McDaniel @kileymcd
Some big, confirmed 2020 international signing news from Jeff & I. This rumor has been hot and heavy with scouts since yesterday's workout. There's a number of Cuban players on the market with seven figure talent and they're all expected to sign on July 2nd 2020 when pools reset. https://t.co/Ay6T85kX4e
Leon hit .325 with four homers, 14 RBI, 15 runs and a .910 OPS in 22 games for Huracanes de Mayabeque of the Cuban National Series in the 2017-18 season.
According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Leon had a chance to show off his skills in the Dominican Republic for teams on Thursday:
Per Passan and McDaniel, the Astros will wait until July 2—when the international pool money resets—to sign Leon.
Finding potential gems like Leon in the international market will be important for a Houston team that is without its first- and second-round picks in each of the next two drafts, a punishment for their sign-stealing scheme.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com put into perspective just how harsh that penalty could end up being for the Astros by looking back at past drafts:
"They got Carlos Correa No. 1 overall in 2012 and Alex Bregman No. 2 in 2015. Kyle Tucker, who is just establishing himself now, was the No. 5 pick that year. They also got George Springer in the first round (No. 11 in 2011). It's true the Astros won't be giving up a top of the Draft pick like that—they were slated to pick 30th in 2020 and with a solid big league roster, chances are their 2021 first-rounder will be late as well—but going from picking No. 30 to picking No. 72 this June will vastly impede their ability to find top talent."
If Leon hits as a prospect, it will lessen the blow of those punishments. Using their international pool money wisely will be huge for Houston in the next two offseasons.