UPDATE, 1:16: The Rays have officially announced the signing of Wander Samuel Franco. The bonus is indeed $3.825-million.
"We are excited to bring Wander Samuel into the organization. We saw this as an opportunity to add to our system a high-caliber, switch-hitting shortstop with a good blend of tools and skills," international scouting director Carlos Rodriguez said in a statement. "He's very young but very mature with great bloodlines. This signing was a great team effort, led by Danny Santana (their Dominican Republic scouting supervisor), and with contributions by scouts from the Dominican, Venezuela and the United States. I can't say enough about all of our scouts and the job they did to make this happen."
DEVELOPING: The Rays have completed their deal to sign top international prospect Wander Franco, a 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez tweeted photos of the signing and reported the final bonus amount to be $3.825-million.
Here is what we wrote in today's Times on Franco:
Franco comes from a baseball family, with two older brothers, both also named Wander, playing in the Astros and Royals minor-league systems and an uncle, Erick Aybar, playing his 12th season in the majors.
The youngest Franco is considered the best prospect of the three brothers, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound switch-hitter with what Baseball America described as "ferocious bat speed" and "above-average raw power." There is some discussion among scouts over whether Franco will stay at shortstop or move to second.
This will be the second time in three years the Rays have spent big for the top international prospect, after signing SS Adrian Rondon in 2014 for around $3 million. Rondon, who turns 19 Friday, is hitting .222 with five homers, 32 RBIs and a .614 OPS at Class A Bowling Green while playing third base.