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Astros sign ‘fierce competitor’ in righty pitcher Adrián Ardines

Houston Astros, Adrián Ardines
Daniel Rodriguez and Adrián Ardines

Over the last two years, the Houston Astros drew a new path in the international signing period. With eyes heavily pointed to the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Venezuela, another country started to jump out to the scouting department: Panama.

Since Jan. 15, 2023, the Astros have signed six Panamanian free agents. Over that span, international scouting assistant Daniel Rodriguez has monitored the nation’s best, digging out a new pipeline for the organization.

The 2024 international signing period opened Monday, signaling a new year of signees entering the system in the Dominican Summer League. In the last week, the Astros inked two Panamanian right-handed pitchers: Cristian Navarro and Arián Ardines.

“It means that the players are demonstrating their talent and that the Panamanians are standing out from the rest,” Ardines said about the uptick in Panamanian signees.

Navarro’s signing was expected as the Astros reached an agreement a year in advance, but Ardines was a prospect less known, getting on the radar of Rodriguez in July. Rodriguez admired Ardines for his heavy, low-90 mph fastball and a Devin Williams-like changeup.

“(Ardines) is just a fierce competitor who’s been an elite pitcher for the past two U-18 national tournaments,” Rodriguez said.

Along with a four-seam fastball and changeup, Ardines throws a slider and curveball. His “sharp hammer” pitch late into counts contributed to his elite status on the U-18 circuit.

“They liked how I handle hitters with my different pitches, my pitch command and how I always try to get hitters out,” Ardines said.

The Astros have signed 14 international free agents through the first four days of the 2024 international signing period. Ardines, one of two Panamanians to sign with Houston, is set to join five of his fellow countrymen in the DSL this spring.

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