The Astros have been busy on the international market since the signing period began on July 2, and they are once again in the final stages of adding another international prospect to the organization.
According to industry sources, the club is finalizing a $1.5 million deal with Cuban infielder Anibal Sierra. The 22-year-old Sierra is set to join an international class that includes Dominican shortstop Freudis Nova, who ranks No. 11 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list.
The club has not confirmed the deal.
• Complete list of all Top 30 international prospect signings
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Sierra is known as an athletic shortstop, but he can also play second base and third base. He has an aggressive line-drive approach at the plate and good hands on defense. Scouts like his bat and his raw power.
How active have the Astros been? Nova signed for $1.2 million, a figure which took up more than half of Houston's $2,197,000 bonus pool to sign players, on the first day. The club also added shortstop Deury Carrasco; catcher Nerio Rodriguez; infielder Jeury Castillo and right-handed pitcher Ronny Garcia out of the Dominican Republic. Shortstops Yorbin Ceuta and Sean Mendoza; right-handed pitchers Angel Macuare, Jairo Solis and Angel Ortega; catcher Jose Alvarez and center fielder Leonardo Gonzalez were signed out of Venezuela.
In all, the Astros have signed 18 prospects for an estimated $5.3 million to thrust them into the maximum penalty even before adding Sierra. Because they have exceeded their bonus pool by more than 15 percent, the club will have to pay a 100-percent tax on the overage and will not be able to sign an international prospect under the international signing guidelines for more than $300,000 during the next two periods.
• Astros introduce Cuban slugger Gurriel
Last week, the Astros signed Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel, 32, to a deal worth $47.5 million. Unlike Sierra, Gurriel did not have to sign under the international signing guidelines because of his age and experience.
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.