When the Mets signed JosÃ© Reyes out of the Dominican Republic in 1999 as a 16-year-old, they paid him $15,000.
When the Mets announced yesterday that they had signed another 16-year-old Dominican, outfielder JesÃºs MartÃnez, they gave him about $1.4 million. The price of Dominican prospects has risen exponentially.
“I didn’t expect something of this size,” MartÃnez told The Associated Press in the Dominican Republic.
MartÃnez, a 6-foot, 185-pound left-handed hitter with celebrated arm strength, cannot play in the United States until he turns 18. The same goes for the 16-year-old Venezuelan pitcher Deolis Guerra, a 6-5, 200-pound right-hander the Mets also signed. Guerra is an imposing presence on the mound, but he is not as touted as MartÃnez.
“These are two of the best young international players,” Mets General Manager Omar Minaya said in a statement. “Signing them goes in line with our original plan of being active in the international market.” Among the scouts Minaya credited for landing MartÃnez and Guerra was Eddy Toledo, who signed Reyes.
Although MartÃnez’s deal dwarfs Reyes’s original salary, he is a bargain compared with a high first-round draft choice. Philip Humber, a pitcher who was the Mets’ first-round pick last year, signed a $5 million contract that included a $3 million signing bonus.