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Brewers sign Dominican OF Jose Pena for $400K

BP's Kiley McDaniel is reporting that the Brewers are, along with the Giants and Indians, favorites to sign the 6'4"/195 Pena. He's being compared to Jermaine Dye and Juan Gonzalez and wowed the scouts last month in a showcase against the Canadian Junior National Team when he homered off Jake Eliopoulos (a top-three rounds draft talent). McDaniel has Pena as the sixth-best international prospect this year and says that Pena's expected bonus has increased from $500K to $1M-$1.5M in the last couple weeks. Happily, McDaniel has video of Pena hitting. Baseball America's Ben Badler also has a scouting report:

Jose Pena, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound right fielder has flashed some power in game situations from the right side of the plate, showing average speed and a plus arm. Pena has shown well in front of some teams, including a workout in front of the Dodgers' brass and at a showcase last month in the Dominican Republic where he hit a home run off Canadian lefthander Jake Eliopoulos, the Blue Jays' second-round pick. "He's grown bigger and stronger," said one scout. "He's the kind of guy who you might get out the first time, but he adjusts and finds a way to figure it out."

 

UPDATE: McDaniel tweeted yesterday that he expects Pena to sign with the Padres for $900K-$1M, but ESPN's Jorge Arangure says the Brewers will still make a play for Pena. Today, McDaniel is saying that he now expects Pena to go to someone other than San Diego and sign about a week after the July 2nd period begins, but yesterday Arangure said Pena would probably make his decision by tomorrow. The Yankees worked out Pena today but might not be as interested in him as others.

McDaniel also has the Brewers, along with the Rangers and Pirates, as favorites to sign 6'5"/210 1B Jacob Beltre, the 16th-rated prospect, who is expected to command a $400K-$600K bonus.

UPDATE: Lots from Arangure today on Beltre. A converted third baseman who was talked about as a first baseman, Beltre actually wants to be a catcher, though McDaniel says no teams believe he can stick there; Arangure appears to agree but thinks teams will allow him to sign as a catcher and play his way off the position. McDaniel has upped Beltre's anticipated bonus slightly to $400K-$700K, and like Pena, Beltre may wait a bit to sign. The Rangers and Pirates appear to have dropped out of the running for him, but the Brewers are now joined by the Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, and Dodgers.

UPDATE:Finally, there are a couple other names tied to Milwaukee. The Brewers may be "all over" shortstop Damian Arredondo, according to Arangure. Badler says of Arredondo: "Plus-plus runner, plus hands, plus arm. Bat needs a little work, but has tools." McDaniel says Arredondo will command at least $500K; both he and Arangure have heard the Yankees are very interested in Arredondo.

Also, McDaniel mentioned in the comments of his most recent international prospects article that the Brewers may also be interested in Venezuelan RHP Daniel Sanchez; however, there may be complications, as his scouting report mentions:

Sanchez has quite a range of possible bonuses. He opened the eyes of the 20-plus teams that attended an open workout in Maracay, as his fastball sat in the low 90s and touched 95, and he also flashed an above-average slider and feel for a changeup; he also showed advanced pitchability. Every scout there had one of two immediate reactions: he's a potential $2 million bonus baby, but also "there's no way this guy is 16." After digging on this one for over a month, I still don't know what to make of it. The vast majority of teams say that they've known he was older than 16 for months, but a few teams contend that they have documentation proving that he's 16. There has been unconfirmed talk about the US consulate in Venezuela reaching a decision on a travel visa and/or passport, but the bottom line is that there hasn't been a concrete announcement that I'm aware of regarding Sanchez's age. The rumor on what his age might be is that Sanchez is 19, and I have him ranked here because, in that event, he would presumably be suspended for a year, then sign for a bonus in the low six-figure range, because his talent is very real. That being said, don't mistake Sanchez having a ranking with me having any idea what's going on here.

Arangure isn't sure that Sanchez fits in the Brewers' budget, but the Brewers may have an ace in the hole, at least in determining Sanchez's age: he's the brother-in-law of Milwaukee's Venezula scout.

For perspective on the numbers being thrown around, the (thus far wasted) $710K the Brewers gave Rolando Pascual in 2005 remains the highest bonus for an international player in club history. The $450K to Wily Peralta was better-spent, and Jose Garcia and Hitaniel Arias are promising. If you're wondering, Alcides Escobar was signed for a paltry $33,000 in 2003.

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