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The Top European Prospect Ever

At least that's what some scouts are saying about Max Kepler-Rozycki, a 16-year-old German outfielder who signed with the Twins for a near-continental record $800,000 bonus. Keith Law of ESPN broke the story last week on Twitter, with Baseball America confirming it after the deal was consummated Saturday, the second day that teams could sign international free agents.

So, what had the Twins, not to mention the Red Sox, Mets and Reds poking around for Kepler's medical records? Well, according to Baseball America, Kepler has the potential to emerge as a legitimate five-tool player. The outfielder already has size for a 16-year-old -- he's listed at 6-foot-4, 180 -- and then there's the fact that he's only 16! In the middle of his teenage years, Kepler is already attending a private school/sports academy in Regensburg that allows him to train significantly more than American teenagers can.

Add in Kepler's numbers -- he batted .400 (.480 slugging and .500 OBP) in an admittedly limited sample size in the Baseball Bundesliga last year, according to Mister Baseball -- and the deal seems like a shrewd move by an organization that's made a lot of them.

Then again, like all prospects, we may never hear Kepler's name come up again. Who knows. Either way, the fact that Kepler attracted so much attention, and that he's yet another European prospect to get a shot at an MLB future, can only augur well for the future of hardball on the old continent. The league's may be small, but as the Netherlands showed (with at least some players who were actually truly Dutch), you never know where a crop of strong players might pop up.

By Cameron Smith  |  July 7, 2009; 2:14 PM ET
Categories:  Twins  | Tags: Europe, Max Kepler, Twins, minor league baseball, prospects  
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