Ronald Acuna Jr., a two-time All-Star and 2018 NL Rookie of the Year with the Braves, is cousin to four other former big-leaguers, and has a brother currently in the minor leagues.
The Twins on Saturday invested in those bloodlines.
Bryan Acuna, a 16-year-old shortstop and brother to the Braves' outfielder, agreed to a contract with the Twins worth $650,000, several published reports said, on the first day of the 2022 international signing period.
Acuna is one of at least a half-dozen Latin American teenagers to agree to contracts with the Twins, according to a list compiled by Baseball America. The Twins do not confirm amateur signings until they become official following a physical exam, expected within the next few days.
The Venezuelan shortstop's bonus is significantly richer than the $100,000 his brother Ronald received from the Braves in 2014 and the $435,000 his brother Luisangel, a shortstop currently in Class A, was paid by the Rangers in 2018. But it's not the largest payment doled out by the Twins on Saturday.
Yasser Mercedes, a speedy outfielder from the Dominican Republic, will be paid $1.7 million once his signing becomes official, Baseball America reported. Mercedes, who the Twins have scouted extensively for three years, has shown power potential in amateur games, making him the most valuable signee in the Twins' class.
The Twins are limited, under MLB's international signing rules, to spending $5.71 million on eligible players, nearly all of them 16 years old, between now and December. They also reportedly spent $600,000 on another shortstop, Dominican Yilber Herrera.
In addition, Minnesota will sign four other Dominicans — outfielders Jose Rodriguez and Anderson Nova, shortstop Juan Zapata and catcher Daniel Peña — to contracts for undisclosed amounts, Baseball America reported.
International signings are critical talent pipelines, as the Twins' roster proves, but it takes several years for those acquisitions to pay off. Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Miguel Sano, Jorge Alcala and Luis Arraez were all signed as teenagers between 2009 and 2014 and developed in the Twins' system.
No Winter Caravan
For a second year in a row, the Twins Winter Caravan across Minnesota and nearby states has been canceled due to COVID-19.
The annual goodwill trek by players, coaches and broadcasters had been scaled back this year to just a handful of stops. But the recent surge in cases caused by the omicron variant convinced the team to scuttle those plans until 2023. The Twins last month also canceled TwinsFest for a second time.