Tampa Bay Rays make official signing of top international prospect Jelfry Marte for $820,000

Jelfry Marte, in white jersey with his family and Rays international scouting director Carlos Rodriguez (left) after signing today at the team academy in the Dominican Republic. [Photo courtesy Tampa Bay Rays]
Jelfry Marte, in white jersey with his family and Rays international scouting director Carlos Rodriguez (left) after signing today at the team academy in the Dominican Republic. [Photo courtesy Tampa Bay Rays]
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UPDATE, 8:25: The Rays rave about Marte's ability and seem confident that the unspecified vision problems won't be an issue.

Rays international scouting director Carlos Rodriguez said Marte has "exciting ability" with the chance to be a plus defender. "He's one of the few guys that projects as a true SS due to his quickness, hands, range and arm.," Rodriguez said. "Live body with athleticism and feel for the game. He possesses exciting ability with good makeup to handle the challenges of professional baseball."

The Rays don't expect Marte to miss any time or be limited due to the vision issues.

"Ultimately it came down to the the talent, the makeup, and the comprehensive history with the player to know and understand what he's been able to physically do and accomplish and how that will serve him going forward," Rodriguez said. "We were pretty thorough examining the vision issue and we just felt that we are very well positioned to give him every chance to realize his potential, which is very high.

"Playing in our division, we understand the caliber of players that are needed to compete day in and day out. We feel Jelfry has that kind of ability and are excited to add him to the organization."

DEVELOPING: The Rays made official their signing of INF Jelfry Marte, a top international prospect who re-entered the market after having his first contract voided by the Twins due to a reported vision issue.

Marte, 16, signed with the Rays for $820,000 – plus a reported additional $200,000 for education – after initially agreeing in July to a deal with the Twins for $3-million.

Marte, a switch-hitter, was ranked No. 3 on the mlbpipeline.com's list of international free agents (behind Shohei Ohtani and Wander Franco, whom the Rays signed last summer), noted for his "quick hands, strong arm and  the defensive tools that could make him an everyday shortstop one day."

The report also notes that he "makes consistent hard contact form both sides of the plate," with good bat speed and the potential to evolve from a line-drive hitter to have some power as well.

With only about $400,000 remaining in their international signing pool the Rays made a trade last week with Seattle to add $1-million, allowing them to sign Marte and potentially others before the June 15 close of the window.

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