Astros sign Cuban free-agent shortstop Sierra

Club also adds four international pitchers

Astros sign Cuban free-agent shortstop Sierra

HOUSTON -- The Astros announced the signing of Cuban shortstop Anibal Sierra, as well as four other international prospects, on Saturday evening.

"Anibal stood out to me after my first look in November 2015 in the Dominican Republic," Astros senior scouting adviser Charlie Gonzalez said. "Offensively, Anibal has an aggressive hitting approach with a quick leveraged swing, high contact ability, and average to solid-average raw power."

Sierra, 22, played for Avispas de Santiago in Cuba's Serie Nacional, as one of the league's youngest players from 2012-14. He appeared in 91 games with Serie Nacional, batting .238 with 36 hits, seven doubles and one triple.

"He is a Major League-caliber shortstop defender with a polished defensive tool set, solid arm, easy footwork, plus lateral range, and advanced knowledge of the position," Gonzalez said. "Overall, Anibal has shown strong tools both offensively and defensively as one of the top Cuban amateur position players I've seen this year."

Sierra is the second Cuban player the Astros have signed in the last week. The club announced the signing of infielder Yulieski Gurriel on July 16.

Astros introduce Gurriel

On Saturday, the Astros also announced the signings of two right-handed pitchers, Jonger Ochoa and Oscar Severino, as well as two left-handed pitchers, Jervic Chavez and Freylin Garcia.

The Astros have signed 19 players during the international free-agent signing period, which began July 2, including nine players from Venezuela, seven from the Dominican Republic, two from Mexico and one from Cuba. That number doesn't include the 32-year-old Gurriel, who signed as a Major League free agent because he's older than 23. 

"Our objective is to be No. 1 or No. 2 across Major League Baseball in the international markets with greatest impact," Astros international director Oz Ocampo said.

Jordan Ray is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.