Indians ink infielder Smit

Indians ink infielder Smit

CLEVELAND -- For the second time in three days, the Indians have tapped into the international pool of player talent.

The Indians on Sunday signed Jason Smit, a 16-year-old infielder from Australia, to a free agent Minor League contract for the 2007 season.

Smit, who is playing with the Australian Junior National Team, will graduate from high school in Perth, Australia this summer.

"We're elated to get this kid," assistant general manager for scouting operations John Mirabelli said. "He has a lot of upside. There are a lot of things to like about this kid."

Smit, a right-handed hitter, was recently named the 10th best amateur prospect at the international level in a poll conducted among international scouts by Mirabelli said the Indians have been scouting Smit since he was 13 years old.

Smit, who stands 6-feet-0 and weighs 165 pounds, worked out for the Indians in Winter Haven, Fla., this past Spring Training, playing against the club's extended spring squad. He will join the organization in March when Minor League camp opens in Winter Haven.

For, now the Indians plan on playing Smit at shortstop.

"His arm will allow him to play anywhere in the infield," Mirabelli said. "He has great instincts and he knows how to handle the bat."

Mirabelli thinks Smit could hold his own with the Indians' Gulf Coast League team now.

"He was competing against kids who were 18 and 19 when he was with us at extended Spring [Training], and he wasn't overmatched," Mirabelli said. "One of our player personnel people thought he stood out."

Mirabelli credited Indians scouts Peter Gahan and Les Pajari for playing big roles in the signing.

"We felt we were a longshot in this," Mirabelli said. "We were competing against big-market teams."

On Friday, the Indians signed Taiwanese right-hander Sung-Wei Tseng to a free agent Minor League contract for 2007.

Steve Herrick is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.