Astros plan to be 'aggressive' internationally

Astros plan to be 'aggressive' internationally

HOUSTON -- Astros director of international Oz Ocampo will be in Venezuela on Wednesday for the start of the international signing period. He will then head to the Dominican Republic with hopes of signing some young talent, general manager Jeff Luhnow said.

The Astros once again have the largest pool of money to spend internationally at $5,015,400, and Luhnow says his club plans to be "reasonably aggressive."

"We're hoping he comes back from both of those locations with agreements with several of what we believe will be the top players in this year's class," Luhnow said. "It's a good class. It's deep and has got pitchers, position players. I'm excited about it. I think we're going to add a lot of depth to our system this year."

A 16-year-old international player is eligible to sign with a Major League team between Wednesday and June 15, 2015, if the prospect turns 17 before Sept. 1 or by the completion of his first Minor League season. Additionally, any prospect who is already 17 or older and has not previously signed a Major or Minor League contract; resides outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico; and has not been enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico within the previous year is eligible to sign during the period.

There are also specific signing guidelines each team must follow, including penalties for exceeding spending limits.

Luhnow said offers will be made beginning Wednesday, and agreements could be reached quickly in what has been described previously as a free-for-all.

"Once you sign them, it's a matter of submitting it to Major League Baseball," Luhnow said. "There are some kids that can't sign until they turn 16, and that would be in later July or August, for the most part. The ones that are 16, you'll see a lot of the top guys signed on July 2 or July 3, or right around then. We plan to be a part of that this year."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Mike Vernon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.