The Milwaukee Brewers smashed their previous record for largest bonus ever awarded to an international free agent, announcing Thursday they signed Dominican shortstop Gilbert Lara to a $3.1 million bonus.
Lara, 16, is ranked fourth on MLB.com’s list of the top 30 international prospects for 2014.
“This is a major step to show the expanded and serious nature of our involvement in Latin America,” general manager Doug Melvin told MLB.com. “Gilbert is a top talent that we are all very excited about.”
The Brewers set their previous record for largest bonuses given to international prospects last year, when Dominicans Franly Mallen and Nicolas Pierre received $800,000 apiece.
Lara’s bonus blows that mark out of the water.
Milwaukee actually exceeded its total bonus pool for 2014 with the one signing. Their pool was $2,611,800.
Lara, according to scouts, can appear to be out of control sometimes, but he is noted for giving maximum effort.
Already 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds, he is a big body who can already square up baseballs well and with home run power.
Based in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, Lara can struggle with breaking balls and offspeed stuff—like most young hitters—but his pitch recognition is expected to get better as he gains experience.
Currently a shortstop, he likely projects as a third baseman or right fielder because of his size and projected arm strength.
Last year’s bonus babies, Mallen and Pierre, are both playing for the Brewers’ Dominican Summer League team.
Mallen, a shortstop, is hitting .258/.333/.344 in 31 games. Pierre, who has started games in both center field and right field, is at .240/.292/.331 in 27 appearances.