Shortstop Kevin Maitan tops Braves' international signings

ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Braves have agreed to terms with shortstop Kevin Maitan and catcher Abraham Gutierrez as the biggest names in their class of 13 international signings.

Maitan and Gutierrez are 16-year-olds from Venezuela. Maitan, a switch-hitter who could eventually move to third base, landed a $4.25 million signing bonus.

Braves general manager John Coppolella said his scouts rate Maitan as ''the best player to come out of Latin American in the last 10 years.''

The class also includes shortstops Livan Soto, also from Venezuela, and Yunior Severino of the Dominican Republic.

Coppolella says the Braves' plan was to overspend and accept a penalty that will limit their signings the next two years because other teams already were in that ''penalty box'' and unable to bid against them this year.

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