<
>

Teen signs one of richest deals for Dominican prospect

7/11/2005 - New York Mets

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The New York Mets have
signed a 16-year-old outfielder in one of the richest deals for a
prospect from the Dominican Republic.

Fernando Martinez got a $1.4 million contract last week, even
though he can't play in the United States until he turns 18.

"I didn't expect something of this size," Martinez said
Saturday at his home in Rio San Juan.

Even with his lucrative deal, Martinez said he wants to attend
college and study business administration. The Mets included
$100,000 to pay for his studies as part of the package.

Martinez, who bats left-handed and throws righty, was signed by
former major league shortstop Rafael Bournigal, the Mets' director
of international scouting.

The Mets announced Monday they also signed 16-year-old
right-hander Deolis Guerra of Venezuela.

"Im happy that we have are able to bring Deolis and [Fernando]
into the Mets' organization," Mets general manager Omar Minaya
said in a statement Monday. "These are two of the best young
international players. Signing them goes in line with our original
plan of being active in the international market."

Because of his arm strength, a number of scouts had expressed
interest in Martinez, comparing him to fellow Dominicans Raul
Mondesi and Jose Guillen.

The Mets have a baseball academy in the Dominican and a team in
the Dominican summer league. The training complex in San Cristobal
is in operation all year long.