DENVER -- The Rockies celebrated the opening of the July 2 international signing period on Tuesday by signing two of MLB.com's top 30 prospects -- 14th-ranked right Erick Julio, a right-handed pitcher from Colombia for $700,000, and 15th-ranked Carlos Herrera, a shortstop from Venezuela for $1.2 million. The Rockies have not yet confirmed the deals.
Last year, the Rockies spent $810,000 on 15 players during the international signing period for the 2012-2013 period. Their most intriguing sign was Venezuelan shortstop Luis Castro, who originally agreed to deal worth $800,000 with the Blue Jays before the contract was voided because of an existing knee injury. He signed with the Rockies for $50,000.
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was just 16 when he signed with the D-backs out of Venezuela on Aug. 3, 2002. He felt it was a good idea to immerse himself in baseball at such a young age.
"It's always a challenge for any Latin player to go play in a different country," Gonzalez said. "I'm sure it's the same way if you're an American baseball player and you have to go play in winter ball or Japan. It's a challenge. It's a different thing for you.
"But I think it's a lot easier for us to adjust to the United States. The culture is not that difficult. Fans and people really make us feel good here. For me it was a good adjustment, being able to speak the language and communicate, get to know everybody. It was not that hard."
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a 16-year-old international player can sign during the period that extends from July 2 through June 15 of the following year 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.
"I had my options to go to college. I had my options to give myself a chance to be in the Draft, but I decided not to," Gonzalez said. "I decided to play baseball and learn, go from a little kid out of high school. I had my opportunities. I had a pretty good chance to go to the "U," University of Miami. That's where I wanted to go, too."
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com.Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.Jesse Sanchez This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.