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2016 International Free Agency: Colorado Rockies sign four top Venezuelan prospects

The Rockies have opened the 2016 international free agent signing period with a splash

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The Rockies have made four big signings on the first day of the new international free agent signing period. The Colorado Rockies have signed left-handed pitchers Luis Noguera and Alfredo Jose Garcia, right-handed pitcher Diego Blanco, and outfielder Yeikel Blandin, according to Baseball America and Jesse Sanchez of MLB Pipeline.

All four of these of new signees hail from Venezuela, where the Rockies have had a strong presence. Because of the unrest in that country, some media outlets are not reporting the signing bonuses that these players are receiving for fear that their families would be targeted.

While Garcia wasn’t on any of the top international prospects lists, his reported signing bonus of $1 million makes him a noteworthy signing. Noguera (No. 17), Blandin (No. 21) and Blanco (No. 42) all ranked on Baseball America’s top 50 list.

Noguera, a left-handed pitcher, has a projectable frame that should allow high 80s fastball to climb into at least the low-90s. His secondary offerings are the highlights though. A good curve and changeup already make him stand out among fellow teenagers. Combined with good control and understanding of how to pitch, Noguera’s polished package makes him one of the top pitching prospects available.

Blandin, a left-handed outfielder, is an intriguing package of raw tools. He doesn’t project the same power that recent top IFA signings Pedro Gonzalez and Daniel Montano do; instead, he compares more closely to Manuel Melendez, one of Gonzalez’s teammates in Grand Junction this year. Blandin’s best tools are his speed, abliity to make contact, and strike zone recognition, which makes leading off a future possibility.

Right-handed pitcher Blanco lacks the polish that Noguera possesses but still has a lot of upside in his projection. A good fastball with plus movement is his best pitch. Blanco’s physical attributes make up the rest of the his plus tools, as he has a quick loose arm action and plus athleticism.

There is no information available on Garcia, though MLBTradeRumors believes that this video taken during a national showcase may be of him.

All four of these prospects are still only 16 years of age, so obviously a lot can still go right or wrong in their development, and they won’t be in consideration for major-league play until after the next presidential election. For now, expect them all to make their DSL Rockies debuts next summer.

While the Rockies didn’t make quite the splash that the Padres and Braves had this signing period—they combined to sign 13 of Baseball America’s top 50 players—they still brought in a solid group of prospects without the penalties that those teams will have incurred over the next two years.