CLEVELAND -- Brayan Hernandez, one of the top young prospects on this year's international market, has officially signed with the Mariners after taking batting practice with the club last week at Safeco Field, the team announced Monday.
The 16-year-old outfielder from Venezuela is ranked No. 8 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects. He agreed to a $1.85 million deal earlier this month, according to an industry source, but the contract wasn't finalized until Hernandez met with team officials in Seattle.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder from Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, is an athletic outfielder with a lot of upside in the Mariners' minds.
"We like his current ability and there is still the projection left with him," said Tim Kissner, the Mariners' director of international operations. "He's a plus athlete with plus instincts and tools. He's an intelligent young man with good instincts for the game and all the tools that we have seen we like and we think that he can continue to grow. That's probably the most intriguing thing, his ability to play the game, but still the upside that he has left."
Hernandez has a long road ahead in the Minor Leagues, but received the chance last week to hit with the Mariners in their home park and meet some of the players he's followed from afar, including Venezuelan star Felix Hernandez and Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano.
"[Meeting him] was a beautiful experience," Hernandez said through a translator. "And it was always a dream to stretch out my hand to Cano and it felt very good to do that.
"I'm proud to be able to wear a Seattle Mariners uniform and I'm very happy because this is a dream that I've always wanted," Hernandez said. "I never thought that I'd be here with them, but thanks to God, everything worked out. I worked hard for this and it is a joy to wear this uniform, to be able to represent it and in the future be able to lead it to a World Series."
The Mariners haven't assigned Hernandez to a team yet, but he's likely to begin play in the Arizona Instructional League this fall.