Indians sign 16-year-old Australian infielder Smit

Updated: July 9, 2006, 11:47 AM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians signed 16-year-old Jason Smit, an infielder on Australia's Junior National Team, on Sunday.

The team also agreed to terms with 17-year-old Chris Archer, a North Carolina right-hander drafted in the fifth round last month. Contract terms for both players were not immediately available.

On Friday, the Indians signed right-hander Sung-Wei Tseng, 21, a member of Taiwan's team in the World Baseball Classic who pitched five shutout innings against a team comprised of top American college players in an exhibition on July 4.

Both Smit and Tseng will play for their respective national teams in an international tournament in Cuba next month.

"Jason is a middle-of-the-diamond player with an offensive upside who has been playing at the international level since he was 14 years old," Indians assistant GM John Mirabelli said. "He has great instincts for the game and a very advanced approach for a player his age."

Cleveland has signed several Australians in recent years, including infielder Jay Nilsson, nephew of former major league catcher Dave Nilsson. Josh Roberts, an Australian signed at age 17 in 2003, hit a grand slam and drove in seven runs Saturday night for Mahoning Valley, the Indians' Class-A team in the New York-Penn League.

"This is part of an overall strategy by our organization to aggressively scout and hopefully sign top international players as well as American high school and college players," Mirabelli said.

Smit will return to high school in Perth after playing in Cuba and is scheduled to join the Indians at their minor-league training camp in Winter Haven, Fla., next March.

Archer completed his senior season at Clayton (N.C) High School, where he was 8-3 with a 1.75 ERA. He had previously signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Miami.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press