Angels blow up plan, sign Ricardo Sanchez …

The Angels went into the international signing period, which began on Tuesday, with a bonus pool just below $2 million. The thinking was that they’d do what they’ve done the last few years — hand out bonuses of a couple-hundred-thousand dollars and try to hit on as many guys as possible with their minimal allotment.

But then the opportunity to sign Ricardo Sanchez came along.

Sanchez is a 16-year-old left-handed pitcher, and the Angels consider him one of the top pitching prospects in the baseball-crazed nation of Venezuela. Tuesday afternoon, they signed him to a reported $580,000 bonus, which is more than they’ve handed out in a few years but less than what they were worried Sanchez would go for.

“If we were going to do something a little bit different, it had to be the right guy,” Angels international scouting director Carlos Gomez said. “It was probably a little bit more than we thought the biggest bonus was going to be this year, but he kind of fit all the things that we were looking to do.”

Sanchez is only 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, but his fastball can reach the low-90s and he has a good feel for his changeup and breaking ball, general manager Jerry Dipoto said. Others have compared him to Rays starter Alex Cobb.

“And I know the one thing we like more than anything is just his makeup — how he competes, the way he goes about his business,” Dipoto added.

Sanchez was most notably named MVP of last August’s Under-15 World Championships, pitching Venezuela to a win over Cuba in the title game. After the contract is officially approved by Major League Baseball, Sanchez will report to the Angels’ new academy in the Boca Chica area of the Dominican Republic, and Gomez believes he can soon go to the United States to pitch in the Arizona Summer League.

Sanchez isn’t ranked among’s Top 30 international prospects, and Baseball America ranks lists him 27th. Gomez, who’s been following him for the last couple of years, believes he should be in the top 10.

“I will wear you out with what I think of Ricardo Sanchez, not only as a player but the human being himself,” Gomez said. “Phenomenal kid. Trainer’s phenomenal, fantastic family. It’s a nice face of the international world.”

Sanchez was added shortly after the First-Year Player Draft, which saw the Angels use their first selection (in the second round) on high school left-hander Hunter Green and take a pitcher with each of their first seven picks.

“It gives us something to look forward to in talent coming down the pike in terms of our pitching,” Dipoto said. “Nothing more than that. There’s no elaborate plan. We’re trying to add as much talent as we can to the system, and it just so happens that we’ve focused on pitching in the here and now.”



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