UPDATE, 10:25: The sides have agreed to terms on a $2.61 million deal, pending a physical exam, which is standard, and finalization of the contract.
DEVELOPING: The Rays are working to complete a deal to sign RHP Sandy Gaston, a 16-year-old from Cuba considered among the top international prospects.
Photos of Gaston in Rays gear were included in a Twitter report from the Dominican Republic of a deal for $2.6 million, but we are told nothing is finalized.
A Twitter translation of that tweet reads:
"The Tampa rays were left with Cuban law Sandy Gaston. The pact was for a 2.6 million dollar bond. It is registered with 16 years and is represented by the coach Juan Pino and the sports agency of the singer Marc Anthony. "
Gaston is a hard-thrower who worked out recently for MLB teams in Miami with the Mesa brothers, who signed Monday with the Marlins. Gaston was ranked among the top prospects by mlb.com and Ben Badler at Baseball America.
Here is what mlbtraderumors.com had to say:
As for Gaston, he checked in 16th on MLB.com's list and 24th on Badler's list at BA. Gaston's most appealing asset is the eye-popping velocity he's already shown at a young age — he's already touched 100 mph, per Badler — though that heat comes with red flags. He's yet to show that he has any real ability to control his fastball, with Badler's scouting report noting that he walked 46 hitters in 47 innings in his final season with Cuba's 18U team. Fangraphs' Kiley McDaniel scouted Gaston at the MLB International Showcase in February, tweeting that he hit 97 mph and flashed a pair of potentially average secondary offerings. However, he also hit a batter and threw four pitches to the backstop in that appearance.
And here is a scouting report from mlb.com:
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50
The question isn't if Gaston can pitch. It's whether he will be a starter or pitch out of the bullpen one day. The most skeptical scouts wonder if he will throw enough strikes.
Here's why: Gaston is an especially hard thrower. His fastball has been clocked as 97 mph and it's not uncommon for him to sit at 94-95. That type of velocity is rare in any market and not surprisingly, some scouts wonder if he will be able to command the high velocity on a consistent basis. But his skill is extraordinary, and Gaston is the type of pitcher any club would like to put it in its system, though the Marlins have emerged as the favorites to sign him.
In terms of secondary pitches, the belief is that those will develop once he signs with a team and receives daily instruction in an academy.
Gaston gave up one hit, struck out a batter and walked one at MLB's International Prospect Showcase in February. He didn't show his best fastball or command.
The right-handed pitcher is from Matanzas, Cuba, and trains with Yuan Pino.