HOUSTON — The White Sox signed nine international prospects Saturday, including the 16-year-old nephew of Vladimir Guerrero. Outfielder Josue Guerrero, who signed for $1.1 million, was the highest rated of the bunch at No. 33 by Baseball America.
Also signed: Outfielders Luis Mieses, Anderson Comas and Anthony Coronado, right-handed pitchers Jenderson Caraballo and Brayan Herrera, left-hander Hector Acosta, infielder Lenyn Sosa and catcher Kleyder Sanchez.
Guerrero “is a very similar player to his uncle at this same age in terms of his physical makeup, his body, his swing, his tools,” said Marco Paddy, Sox special assistant to the general manager in charge of international operations. “Like several of these players, he has a chance to be a very special player.”
Mieses, 16, is rated as the No. 36 international prospect by Baseball America, and Comas is No. 37.
Paddy called the class “deep across a number of positions.”
“This is a big, physical and athletic group of young men who have impressed us both on and off the field as we have gotten to know them,” he said. “Every one of these young men is a tribute to his family, and we are excited to have them begin their careers with the White Sox.”
Sox acquire minor league catcher
The Sox acquired 23-year-old catcher Alfredo Gonzalez from the Astros for cash considerations and optioned him to Class AA Birmingham on Saturday. To make room on the 40-man roster, right-hander Daniel Webb (Tommy John surgery) was moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Gonzalez was designated for assignment on June 25 after hitting .158 over 44 games with AA Corpus Christi. He has thrown out 45.5 percent (18-33) of attempted basestealers. He threw out 47 percent between Class A and AA last season, when he hit .321 with two home runs.
Manager Robin Ventura used a catcher as the DH for the second time, this time Dioner Navarro with Alex Avila catching, a somewhat risky play knowing the pitcher would have to bat should Navarro have to catch if Avila got hurt.
“There is a risk but it’s the best part of our lineup having both of them in there,’’ Ventura said. “But when we do it with Dio, being a switch-hitter, you’re probably not going to pinch hit for him so if somebody gets hurt you turn it into National League rules.’’
With 12 pitchers, four bench players and two catchers on his roster, Ventura doesn’t mind taking that chance, although Melky Cabrera (sprained right wrist) is probably out until Monday, Ventura said.
Cabrera’s absence heightens the need for another hitter from the left side, though.
“You’re trying to find a way to get some offense in matchups that are right,’’ Ventura said. “With Alex catching, Dio becomes the next best available option to be in there.’’
Morneau in the swing of things
As Justin Morneau gets set for a minor league rehab stint next week, Ventura likes what he sees of the left-handed hitting designated hitter/first baseman taking batting practice with the team.
“From the injury he’s had [elbow surgery] it’s nice to see that he’s free and easy,’’ Ventura said. “The first couple of times that he hit you could tell he was a little unsure about letting it go. Right now he’s letting it go where you don’t see that hesitation or tentativeness, which is another reason why it’s safe to let him go out next week and let it rip and see where he’s at.
“The way he’s swinging, it’s nice to see. It’s exciting.’’