Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Updated: July 2, 5:12 PM ET
Inoa agrees to $4.25M signing bonus, minor league deal with A's
By Enrique Rojas
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dominican prospect Michael Inoa has agreed to a minor league contract and a $4.25 million signing bonus with the Oakland Athletics, said the 16-year-old from Santo Domingo.
The bonus is an A's record for a signing an amateur player.
Inoa and his parents turned down more lucrative offers from the Cincinnati Reds and the Texas Rangers due to Oakland's positive results developing young pitchers. The Reds offered a $5 million signing bonus and a major league contract, while the Rangers offered $5.2 million, according to Inoa.
"After careful thought, my parents and I decided that Oakland has a better pitcher development program, and that will be more important for my career in the long haul," said Inoa on Tuesday.
He became eligible to sign with any major league ballclub on Tuesday at the strike of midnight.
Inoa (6 foot 7, 210 pounds) is a right-handed hurler with a three-pitch repertoire consisting of a fastball (93 mph), changeup and curveball.
Oakland likes Inoa's athleticism and he already has a fastball clocked in the mid 90s.
"Michael has a chance to be a very special pitcher in the major leagues," A's general manager Billy Beane said at a Wednesday news conference. "Even at this early age, he is a very polished pitcher with three above-average pitches and a fluid delivery. We are very excited about this young man's potential and look forward to watching his growth, both personally and professionally, in the years to come."
Edgar Mercedes, president of the Born to Play baseball academy where Inoa played since he was 12, said the A's made all the right moves to sign Inoa.
"I think the personal treatment that Beane put into this was the determining factor so that Inoa's parents opted to stay with Oakland even though there were higher offers," he said.
Inoa was visibly thrilled when he spoke at the news conference on Wednesday.
"I feel very, very happy because my dream to turn into a professional player has become reality," Inoa said.
He said he hopes to follow the example set by fellow Dominican Pedro Martinez, a three-time Cy Young Award winner.
"Pedro is my idol," said Inoa, adding he intended to train hard to possibly surpass the achievements of the Dominican star.
Beane and the A's have been upgrading their efforts in the Dominican over the past year. He and a group of A's executives including owner Lew Wolff visited the Dominican Republic last month to scout and evaluate Inoa.
"There is no question that Michael is an impact prospect," said Raymond Abreu, the organization's director of Latin America operations. "In my opinion, he's the most impressive Latin America player since Felix Hernandez (2002). As a pitcher, he has effortless mechanics with loose arm action on all his pitches and a clean, easy delivery. He's an exceptional athlete and he throws a very heavy fastball."
Enrique Rojas covers Major League Baseball for ESPNdeportes.com.