Astros sign Cuban free agent pitcher Elian Rodriguez

HOUSTON, TX - The Houston Astros have signed Cuban right-handed pitcher Elian Rodriguez to a minor league contract. The announcement was made by Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Astros Director of International Oz Ocampo. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rodriguez, 20, is a 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-handed starter. He pitched briefly in Cuba's Serie Nacional 18U league from 2014-15 as a 17-year-old.

"From seeing Elian Rodriguez in multiple game situations, what stands out the most is his combination of athleticism, power stuff, and overall pitchability and command," said Ocampo. "Elian is physical, athletic, and projectable with an impressive repertoire, including a 92-97 MPH fastball and two power breaking balls. Elian also demonstrates a strong work ethic, aptitude and intelligence to improve in all areas of his game. Elian has all the attributes to develop into a power starter at the Major League level, and we are excited to bring him into the Astros system."

"Elian is a right handed starter with an electric arm and a very high ceiling," said Astros Senior Scouting Advisor Charlie Gonzalez. "He is still getting a feel for game situations and developing his pitchability, so pitching in a professional environment will help him blossom. The combination of his youth, delivery, and physicality makes for an exciting projection and a potential elite power arm."

The signing of Rodriguez continues the Astros efforts towards acquiring the top talent that has come out of Cuba. Last summer, Houston signed star Cuban free agent IF Yuli Gurriel, who is currently hitting .274 with 12 doubles, seven homers and 29 RBI as Houston's primary first baseman. In addition to Gurriel, the Astros have signed or acquired several Cuban players over the last three years, including IF/OF Yordan Alvarez, RHP Rogelio Armenteros, RHP Jesus Balaguer, CF Alejandro Garcia, LHP Cionel Perez, RHP Yoanys Quiala, SS Anibal Sierra and RHP Carlos Sierra.

Today is the last day of Major League Baseball's 2016-17 International Signing Period. During this year's period, Houston signed 38 total players, including 16 from Venezuela, 13 from the Dominican Republic, four from Cuba and three from Mexico. Of those players, there are 25 pitchers, seven infielders, four catchers and two outfielders.