"We are very excited to bring Cuban shortstop Anibal Sierra into the Houston Astros organization," said Ocampo. "Anibal is an athletic shortstop who can hit and play multiple positions, and possesses the intelligence, work ethic, and baseball instincts to succeed at the highest levels."
"Anibal stood out to me after my first look in November 2015 in the Dominican Republic," said Astros Senior Scouting Advisor Charlie Gonzalez. "Offensively, Anibal has an aggressive hitting approach with a quick leveraged swing, high contact ability, and average to solid-average raw power. 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. Overall, Anibal has shown strong tools both offensively and defensively as one of the top Cuban amateur position players I've seen this year."
The signing of Sierra continues the Astros significant efforts towards signing the top baseball talent that has come out of Cuba. Last Saturday, July 16, the Astros signed star Cuban free agent IF Yuliesky Gurriel to a Major League contract.
Since the beginning of the 2014 international signing period, the Astros have signed the second-most players out of Cuba among all 30 Major League teams, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers' eight signings in that span. Those players include Sierra, Gurriel, RHP Rogelio Armenteros, OF Norberto Castellanos, CF Alejandro Garcia, RHP Yoanys Quiala and RHP Carlos Sierra.
"Our objective is to be number one or number two across Major League Baseball in the international markets with greatest impact," said Ocampo. "With the addition of Senior Scouting Advisor Charlie Gonzalez and the entire support of our front office, scouting, and player development team, we are well-positioned to identify, evaluate, sign, and develop the top Cuban player talent available. We are extremely fortunate to have the continuous support of Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow, and our entire ownership and front office group, which has allowed us to aggressively pursue the top amateur and professional international players for the Houston Astros organization."
In addition to the signing of Sierra, the Astros also announced today the signing of four international free agent prospects, LHP Jervic Chavez, RHP Freylin Garcia, RHP Jonger Ochoa and RHP Oscar Severino. All five players will report to the Astros complex in the Dominican Republic and are subject to the 2016-17 international bonus pool limits.
Since the international free agent signing period began on July 2, the Astros have signed 19 total players, including nine players from Venezuela, seven players from the Dominican Republic, two players from Mexico and one from Cuba.