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Red Sox announce signing of defensive whiz Iglesias

09.08.09 at 7:15 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced the signing of Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias to a four-year Major-League contract that is to begin in 2010, and added the shortstop to the 40-man roster. The deal was for $8.25 million, with the shortstop receiving a $6.25 million bonus (spread over four years) and annual salaries, starting in 2010, of $500,000 per season.

Iglesias is considered an elite defender, having drawn some scouting comparisons to Ozzie Smith and other Gold Glove-caliber shortstops. There are, however, questions about his offensive ability. This is from a Full Count post on the Red Sox’ international amateur shortstop signees in July:

(Iglesias) is considered a very athletic player with good speed who plays dazzling dazzling defense. Even so, there are questions about his ability to hit enough to justify an investment along the lines of the Sox’€™ rumored offer. He has shown little power in his Cuban career, though he was very young for the competition while playing in the Cuban National Series.

Dayan Viciedo, a 19-year-old power hitting third baseman whom the White Sox signed to a four-year, $11 million deal out of Cuba this offseason, played in several international tournaments with Iglesias. At the Futures Game in St. Louis, Viciedo offered the following scouting report on his former teammate and countryman:

‘€œHe’€™s a very good fielder in particular. You can put him anywhere,’€ said Viciedo. ‘€œHe can play third, short and second. He’€™s a very good player.’€

Asked about Iglesias’€™ hitting, Viciedo paused to consider his answer.

‘€œHe defends himself,’€ said Viciedo.

Iglesias defected while playing at a tournament in Canada last August.

That said, one international scout for an American League club suggested that his team, like the Sox, believed that Iglesias might have legitimate offensive ability. The scout suggested that Iglesias has the hand-eye coordination that could project to make him a viable No. 2 hitter.

Iglesias, 19, is slated to play for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League beginning in October.  He played 75 games for los Vaqueros de La Habana of Cuba’€™s major league Serie Nacional during the 2007-08 season, batting .322 (101-for-314) with 11 doubles, four triples, 39 RBI, 51 runs scored and 17 walks.  The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Iglesias was 17 years old when that season began.  A right-handed hitter, he posted a .329 (81-for-246) average against right-handed pitching.  A native of Havana, Cuba, Iglesias established residency in the Dominican Republic before signing with the Red Sox.

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