Royals quietly bide their time as ‘inflated’ international market opens

Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) and catcher Salvador Perez (13) are examples of the Royals' success in the international market.
Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) and catcher Salvador Perez (13) are examples of the Royals' success in the international market. The Kansas City Star

Rene Francisco, the Royals’ assistant general manager in charge of international operations, has earned raves during his tenure here for his acquisition of talent. Under the watch of Francisco, brought along by general manager Dayton Moore from Atlanta, the organization has found gems in Latin America.

The backbone of this club is catcher Salvador Perez. Its most promising young pitcher is rookie Yordano Ventura. The top position-player prospect is 18-year-old shortstop Raul Mondesi. Some of the most intriguing players in the farm system such as Miguel Almonte, Jorge Bonifacio and Orlando Calixte were all signed as amateurs.

In recent years, the amount of coverage of the draft and the international market has swelled. When the market opened on July 2, the first day 16-year-old international free agents were eligible to sign with clubs, the Yankees garnered headlines with a massive splurge, lavishing teenage prospects with seven-figure contracts. Other clubs also made news.

The Royals were quiet, save for an $850,000 deal for a shortstop from the Dominican Republic named Ricky Aracena, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported. Moore indicated on Thursday afternoon that the team does not announce contracts in this market and declined to discuss the specifics of his team’s spending. He stressed that the team, like the 29 other clubs, had a pool of money to spend in the market from July 2, 2014, to June 30, 2015, and that the Royals intended to use it.

But right now?

“It’s a very inflated market leading up to July 2 and on July 2,” Moore said.

Moore referenced the team’s track record in this regard. The Royals have done well in recent years finding bargains in this market.

“We don’t really sign guys on July 2,” Moore said. “A lot of our big guys: Bonifacio wasn’t a July 2 guy. Calixte wasn’t a July 2 guy. Mondesi wasn’t a July 2 guy. Ventura wasn’t a July 2 guy. Salvador Perez wasn’t a July 2 guy. Almonte wasn’t a July 2 guy.”

He added: “It’s a pool of money that’s allowed to use during that period of time. It’s up to us to use it wisely, sign as many quality players as we can. That’s when the process begins.”

The matchups this weekend in Cleveland

Friday, 6:05 p.m.: RHP Yordano Ventura 5-7, 3.26 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (5-5, 3.78 ERA).

Saturday, 6:05 p.m.: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (5-6, 3.69 ERA) vs. LHP T.J. House (0-2, 4.54 ERA).

Sunday, 12:05 p.m.: LHP Danny Duffy (5-7, 2.60 ERA) vs. Corey Kluber (7-6, 2.99 ERA).

From The Star

Greg Holland is likely going to be an All-Star this year for the second time. He thinks Wade Davis should join him at Target Field.

The Royals’ playoff percentage (according to Baseball Prospectus)

22.9 percent.

Here is some rock music

“The Loved Ones Who Hate Us” by Handguns.

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @McCulloughStar.

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