Astros sign Cuban free agent shortstop Anibal Sierra

HOUSTON, TX - The Houston Astros have signed Cuban shortstop Anibal Sierra, Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Director of International Oz Ocampo announced today. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Sierra, 22, is a 6-foot-1, 183-pound shortstop from Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. From 2012-2014, he played for Avispas de Santiago in Cuba's Serie Nacional as one of the youngest players in the league. Sierra appeared in 91 games during his time in Serie Nacional, playing 47 games at second base and 26 games at shortstop.

"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.

Player                      Pos.     Ht.       Wt.                                        Hometown

Jose Alvarez             C          6-1       170                                Zulia, Venezuela

Jose Luis Bravo         RHP      6-2       185         Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico

Deury Carrasco         SS        6-0       160 Sanchez Ramirez, Dominican Republic

Jeury Castillo             IF         5-10     170          Santo Domingo Este, Dominican Republic

Jervic Chavez           LHP      6-0       175                            Zamora, Venezuela

Yorbin Ceuta             SS        6-0       165                            Miranda, Venezuela

Freylin Garcia            RHP      6-3       170        Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Ronny Garcia            RHP      5-11     165              Samana, Dominican Republic

Leonardo Gonzalez    CF        5-11     160                                Zulia, Venezuela

Juan Pablo Lopez      LHP      6-4       180                   Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico

Angel Macuare          RHP      6-3       185                              Bolivar, Venezuela

Sean Mendoza          SS        5-9       150                            Miranda, Venezuela

Freudis Nova             SS        6-1       175                   Azua, Dominican Republic

Jonger Ochoa            RHP      6-2       185                         Carabobo, Venezuela

Angel Ortega             RHP      6-0       180                              Bolivar, Venezuela

Nerio Rodriguez        C          6-2       205        Santo Domingo Oeste, Dominican Republic

Oscar Severino         RHP      6-1       175       San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic

Anibal Sierra             SS        6-1       183                                  Santiago, Cuba

Jairo Solis                 RHP      6-4       175                         Carabobo, Venezuela

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