Mateo is highly regarded prospect

Updated: July 2, 2009, 10:39 PM ET
Associated Press

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The St. Louis Cardinals gave a $3.1 million signing bonus to 16-year-old outfielder Wagner Mateo, considered to be among the top amateur free agents from Latin America.

The New York Yankees on Thursday also gave a $3 million bonus to a 16-year-old Dominican prospect, catcher Gary Sanchez.

Cardinals vice president Jeff Luhnow announced details of their signing at a news conference in Santo Domingo.

"We have a tradition of competing and winning and Dominicans have been a big part of that success. We hope that one day soon, Wagner joins Albert Pujols and helps us win," Luhnow said.

General manager John Mozeliak said in St. Louis that if Mateo had been in last month's draft, he'd have been a top 10 pick.

"I think it's really hard to handicap, but given what he's accomplished so far I do think he'll be a quick mover," Mozeliak said. "He's advanced for 16."

Mateo, who is from Santo Domingo, is 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds. He throws and bats left-handed. He represented the Dominican Republic in Major League Baseball's RBI World Series in 2007 and 2008.

"I am proud to sign with the Cardinals, a team with so much history," he said.

The signing is contingent on Mateo passing a physical in St. Louis this summer. Mozeliak calls the signing "a significant step" in the organization's effort to obtain the best talent in Latin America.

Yankees vice president Mark Newman said the 190-pound Sanchez is one of the top talents in the region.

Sanchez said he always hoped to sign with the Yankees.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press