Sunday February 06, 2011 | 01:45 PM

Baseball players in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela are exempt from the major league draft and can sign with major league organizations when they are 16.

That leads to teams bidding against each other and offering big bonuses to teenagers.

Some bonuses are not so big. Boston signed Hanley Ramirez for only $20,000 and he's a star.

The price seems to be going up. In 2007, The Red Sox paid 16-year-old infielder Michael Almanzar $1.5-million to sign. He batted .246 in Greenville last year.

In 2009, Boston signed shortstop Jose Vinicio for about $2-million. He was still 16 when he was challenged with the Gulf Coast League last year, batting .253.

Back in 2006, the Red Sox signed a group of young prospects, including outfielder Engel Beltre ($575,000) and infielder Oscar Tejeda ($525,000). Beltre was traded to the Rangers in the Eric Gagne deal (which seemed like a good deal at the time).

Tejeda is now 21 and will start at second base for the Portland Sea Dogs this season. He had a breakout year last season in Salem. Read more about him in the Sunday column.


About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases

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