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12/14/09 5:23 PM ET

Astros ink pitching prospect Ferreira

Coveted 17-year-old left-hander has 'easy velocity'

HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Ed Wade confirmed Monday the club signed 17-year-old left-hander Edgar Ferreira of the Dominican Republic. Ferreira's signing bonus was rumored to have been $350,000.

Ferreira, who has generated some buzz on the international scene, was considered one of the top Dominican pitchers on the market. Wade said director of Latin American scouting Felix Francisco had seen Ferreira a few times in the Dominican, and assistant general manager Bobby Heck and national cross-checker David Post saw him at a showcase event in Florida in October.

"All the reports were very consistent," Wade said. "They really liked his kid. They thought he had the makeup to be something substantial. His price tag was pretty high during the summer, and it came down into a range we thought was within reason. We made it work in our international budget, and we're happy to have him in the mix."

The Astros had interest in Ferreira before the July 2 international signing period began, but like many clubs, they were scared off by a signing bonus that was initially more than $1 million. Ferreira is raw, but Heck believes there is a world of potential in his arm.

"Felix and the staff did a good job keeping tabs on him, and it really came down to where he came closer to what we were looking to spend," Heck said. "We're happy to have him."

Ferreira's fastball sits in the low 90-mph range, but he has touched 94 on occasion. Heck said he has a good body and has "easy velocity," though he needs to work on his breaking ball and get a feel for his changeup.

"He's a live-arm guy," Heck said. "We really have to get him into more of a consistent delivery and throwing off his fastball. It's appealing to add something you don't have. It was easy to justify when the price deemed about what the market was."

Heck said Ferreira would likely begin his career at the Astros' academy in the Dominican Republic.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.