16-year-old shortstop Marten Gasparini has indeed signed with the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday, the first day 16-year-old players are eligible to sign contract with MLB organizations. The Italian is considered as the best European prospect ever and therefore also received a European record signing bonus of $1.3 million. The previous mark was set by Germany’s outfielder Max Kepler (Minnesota Twins, $800,000).
The switch-hitting Gasparini played for Italy in the IBAF 15U and 18U Baseball World Championships in 2012. He is scheduled to play for his home country again this summer and then join the Royals organization in September for the Instructional League according to a report by MLB.com.
Kansas City’s assistant general manager of international operations, Rene Francisco, traveled to Italy for the signing on Tuesday. He credited Italy’s national team coaches Bill Holmberg and Marco Mazzieri as major factors in developing Gasparini.
He is from Cervignano, Italy. His dad is Italian, his mother grew up in London, but has Jamaican roots. He speaks fluently Italian and English. While there is not much doubt that he could develop into a Major League hitter, it remains to be seen if he stays at short or eventually moves into the outfield.