Reportedly, ten teams were courting Francisco Pena, a Domincan catcher and son of former ballplayer and current Yankee coach Tony Pena. Per ESPN.com:
The New York Mets on Saturday signed Dominican prospect Francisco Pena, the son of former major-league catcher Tony Pena, a source told ESPNdeportes.com.
The Mets, who paid Pena a bonus of $750,000, are not planning to make the move public until next week.
Besides the bonus, Pena would receive schooling expenses in case he decides to take up his studies again, and he could be invited to the Mets' training camp next spring.
"After intense negotiations with the most interested teams -- around 10 -- the Pena family decided to accept the Mets' offer," the source said.
According to the source, the presence of general manager Omar Minaya, also a Dominican native, in the Mets' front office was a major factor in Pena's decision to sign.
Pena, 16, is considered to be one of the best catching prospects in the Dominican Republic's baseball history.
"The kid is a good defensive catcher, but it is his bat what will take him far in baseball. We could say that he is a combination of Tony Pena's defense and Mike Piazza's bat," said Leo Mercedes, who runs the young player's career.
"I feel embarrassed to talk about my own son, but I think Francisco has a natural talent for batting, and as a catcher I can say that right now he has a better arm than I had when I was 16," said Tony Pena, now a Yankees coach who won four Gold Gloves and played in five All-Star games during his 18-year major-league career.
Tony Pena Jr., Tony Pena's eldest son, made his major-league debut two months ago with the Atlanta Braves.
More from Baseball America last week:
As the July 2 start date for international free agent signings approached, word continued to spread through the scouting community that clubs were ready to spend significant amounts once again in Latin America for premium talent.Pena is presumably regarded as less of a prospect than Jesus Montero, whom the Mets also pursued before he signed with the Yankees last week for $2 million. Still, a lot of attention was paid to Pena and apparently Omar Minaya's Latin flava has done it again.
That would leave the industry picking up where it left off last year, when clubs such as the Braves, Rockies, Brewers, Rangers and Mets were among those using six- and seven-figure signing bonuses to sign players out of the primary Latin American hotbeds of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. The Mets made the biggest splash last year, signing outfielder Fernando Martinez ($1.4 million) and righthander Deolis Guerra ($700,000) for two of the largest bonuses of the year.
This year's top targets include some big names, both in terms of length and in terms of big league name recognition. Dominican catcher Francisco Pena has received the most attention, as the youngest son of former big leaguer Tony Pena, now a coach with the Yankees. Pena has been pursued by teams such as the Yankees, Mets, Nationals and Reds, and rumors swirled that he was expected to sign for a bonus as large as $2 million. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Pena has power and arm strength behind the plate, like his father. He's not considered as athletic as his dad or brother, Tony Pena Jr., now a shortstop in the Braves system.
One international scouting director termed Pena's body as "heavy and thick." Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo, who knows the Pena family well, told the Kansas City Star in a recent interview that Pena "throws almost as well as me, and he has good size. I knew from seeing him he would be a professional. Tony Pena has baseball in his blood, and his kids are the same."
UPDATE [3:55PM]: David Eckstein has been selected to replace Reyes at the All Star Game. Tragic.