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Astros Sign Venezuelan Shortstop

At least the Astros weren't quiet as the July 2 international free agency derby got started. They quickly signed a young Venezuelan shortstop named Arturo Michelena for $220,000. According to Baseball America, Michelena is a 6-foot, 165 pound wiry shortstop who's best asset is his defensive potential.

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However, he was the best hitter on his 16-and-under team in Mexico recently and has worked out for the Astros at their Dominican academy. He's also described as having "broad shoulders" which suggests the ability to add muscle and power to his frame. 

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Still, he's a light-hitting, defense-first guy right now. It's a long way from that to someone like Miguel Tejada, but it's a start. At least Houston didn't get outspent by the other team in its state...

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Oh, wait. While Houston was in on Michelena, the Texas Rangers were signing two of the top deals in international free agency locking up the top hitter in the international class for a reported $3.5 million and about $5 million on another outfielder with the best raw power in Latin America. That's a lot of money to lock into two players who may never see Double-A, but it'd be nice if the Astros were also in on guys like that.

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