From Enrique Rojas of ESPN:
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds have joined the Oakland Athletics in a bidding feud for the services of Dominican pitching prospect Michael Inoa, the crown jewel of the pool of Latin American players who will be available to be signed July 2, a source has told ESPNdeportes.com.
"Oakland has led the pack of teams interested in Inoa, but both Cincinnati and Texas have surged in the past few days, and it is now a three-horse race of big favorites to grab this kid," the source said.
"Some teams have offered him a major league contract in order to make the offer even more attractive, but Inoa's team is not interested in that. The battle may be fought until the last minutes," the source added.
July 2 marks the beginning of the eligibility period for players who turn 17 years old after Sept. 6, though they won't be able to play until next year. Players 17 or older may sign anytime.
Inoa, 16, at 6 feet 7 and 210 pounds, is a right-hander with a repertoire consisting of a 93-mph fastball, a changeup and a curveball.
The young prospect has been evaluated by every major league organization. General manager Billy Beane and a group of Oakland executives even traveled to Dominican Republic to evaluate Inoa.
According to data obtained by ESPNdeportes.com, at least seven teams were ready to give Inoa a bonus of more than $3 million, but many of them, including the New York Yankees, pulled out of the race as the price for the young ace went up.
Juan Duran and now this. It looks as if the Reds are serious in becoming players on the international market. Here is what I know about Inoa:
He throws a low-90s fastball that has touched 94. More velocity is expected. He throws an ordinary curve and a slightly below average change, as well as a splitter he rarely uses. All three pitches have potential.
Inoa is 6-7, 205 and very athletic. One scout said the kid would be a point guard in basketball. Another scout called him a "once-a-decade" kind of pitching prospect. His mom played softball and his dad played baseball in the Dominican.
Inoa reportedly has a fluid, smooth delivery. At age 13 he was 6-4, 180 and was hitting 84 mph. He repeats his delivery well and locates his pitches very well.
His signing bonus could break the record of $2.44 million set in 1999 by none other than Wily Mo Pena, then of the New York Yankees.