Royals sign 16-year-old Italian shortstop to $1.3 million deal

The Royals opened the international signing season with a bang Tuesday morning by reaching a $1.3 million deal with Marten Gasparini, a 16-year-old Italian shortstop often cited as the best European prospect in history.

The Royals confirmed the deal, which was first reported by Baseball America. The bonus would be the highest ever given to a European amateur player.

“Gasparini is one of the best athletes on the international market,” Baseball America reported. “(He) has excellent speed and should play a premium position, with a lot of scouts projecting him as a center fielder.

“He’s a switch-hitter who performed well at the 15U World Championship last August in Mexico.”

The previous high bonus for a European amateur player was $800,000 given by Minnesota to German outfielder Max Kepler in 2009.

Kepler, now 20, is batting .295 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 11 games at Lo-A Cedar Rapids after returning from an early-season elbow injury.

Gasparini is 6 feet and 175 pounds and was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 12 international prospect, i.e., amateurs who are not eligible for the annual first-year player draft.

The Royals also signed Cristhian Vasquez, a 16-year-old outfielder from Venezuela, for $750,000. He throws and bats left-handed.

Baseball America lauds Vasquez’s advanced approach at the plate. He is a solid contact hitter with gap power, but doesn’t possess great speed or a great arm.

Tuesday was the first day that clubs could sign international amateur players.

International amateurs must be 16 years old at the time of the signing and turn 17 either by Sept. 1 or by the end of their first professional season. They must also register with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau.

Hosmer, Holland win June awards

Eric Hosmer was chosen Tuesday as the Royals’ players of the month for June and Greg Holland was the club’s pitcher of the month. It was the third such career award for both players.

Hosmer, who was the Royals’ player of the month in May and September 2011, finished third in the majors with 21 runs scored in June. He also batted .303 with team-high in hits (33), home runs (six), RBIs (17) and slugging (.541), adding six doubles and four stolen bases.

Meanwhile, Holland, who has won back-to-back awards and also was the club’s pitcher of the month last July, went 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA and nine saves last month. Opponents batted a meager .119 as he scattered five hits and two walks, while striking out 24 in 13 innings.

End of the Frenchy Quarter

The Royals plan to roll out a new branded T-shirt to replace the Frenchy Quarter shirts for the July 4 series finale against Cleveland now that Jeff Francoeur has been designated for assignment.

Shirts will be available through the second at Thursday’s game at a table located behind section 247 and seats for the game remain the same.

Fans wishing to exchange tickets for another game or who want to have the new branded T-shirt mailed to them should call the Royals’ ticket services department at


(option 3) or send email to


Unused Frenchy Quarter T-shirts will be donated to local charities.

Coleman earns PCL all-star nod

Right-hander Louis Coleman, a minor-league reliever with Class AAA Omaha, was selected Tuesday for the Pacific Coast League All-Star Team.

Coleman, 27, is 3-1 with a 1.44 ERA in 23 appearances for the Storm Chasers. He’s recorded six saves and struck out 52 in 43⅔ innings.

The PCL All-Stars square off against the International League All-Stars on July 17 in the Dolan Auto Group Triple-A All-Stat Game at Aces Ballpark in Reno, Nev.

In four appearances with the Royals in late May, Coleman went 1-0 and didn’t allow a run in 4⅔ innings.