The folks at the Hardball Times decided to put my article from the 2008 Annual up on their website. Check it out. It goes into a little more detail about what I did on my Watson year than I have here at globalbaseball.
The Hardball Times 2008 Baseball Annual comes out this week. I’ve been a customer since 2005, and this year I wrote an article for them on a handful of the experiences I had during the past year. It was a fun one to write, and I hope people enjoy it.
Instead of putting up an Amazon ad, I’ll just refer you to your local independent bookstore to get ahold of a copy of the best yearly publication of baseball analysis around. You can also grab a copy at THT’s website. Lest people think this a shameless plug, I’ll add that I make no money on sales of The Hardball Times.
Well, I guess the powers that be decided that sending a second Dominican team to the Caribbean Series would be a better idea than using Puerto Rico’s departure to expand the scope of the event. It’s only fair. After all, it’s not like there’s another country in the Caribbean that could hope to field a competitive team.
I know the Dominican Republic is generally the strongest of the four countries and this year’s host, but this is kind of lame.
For those who get ESPNDeportes, the two Dominican Winter League heavyweights, the Tigres de Licey and the Aguilas Cabaenas, will be playing all weekend. Should be pretty entertaining even if you don’t speak Spanish.
Well, the Americans finally pulled it off. The best team of prospects the United States has sent to an international tournament since I started paying attention beat the Cuban National team to take the World Cup crown. The last time the United States won the IBAF World Cup was 1974, and the last time any team other than Cuba took home the gold was when South Korea won it in 1982.
Fun Fact: Despite always boasting at least a solid core of baseball talent, Canada has never earned a medal at the IBAF World cup.
The semifinals of the 2007 IBAF world cup are set. In the group B bracket, familiar international powerhouses Cuba and Japan face off. While it would be tempting to write “in a rematch of the 2006 WBC final), that would be misleading. The Cuban team, as always, is the class of the international baseball circuit, and is heavily favored in this one.
In Group A, the solid core of prospects from the USA faces off against…the Netherlands.
On the strength of a 2-run extra innings double by Seattle Mariners farmhand Gregory Halman, the Dutch national team beat Chinese Taipei 6-3 to reach the semifinal round.
We’re not exactly in unprecedented territory here. The Netherlands placed 4th when they hosted the 2005 World Cup, but their series of victories that year was nowhere near as impressive.
It’s pretty sweet to see Europe fielding competitive teams in international competition.
After a long hiatus, I’m poking my head in here to deliver this tidbit:
The freaking Netherlands just beat the Cuban National Team in an IBAF world cup game. Against the unstoppable force of pitchers Deigomar Markwell and David Bergman, Yuliesky Gourriel went 0-for-4. Frederich Cepeda went 1-for-3. Yoandry Urgelles went 0-for-3. The best team in international competition managed just 5 hits, none of them going for extra bases.
The Netherlands Lineup, meanwhile, comprised mostly of guys in their late-20s who will never play in the states (Rick Vanden Hurk isn’t on the world cup roster and Greg Halman, while on the team, didn’t play), managed 10 hits to score 2 runs.
The win gave the Netherlands a 5-2 record and propelled them into the quarterfinals, knocking Canada out of the tournament in the process.
The boxscore is available at the IBAF website (http://www.baseball.ch/), or at baseballdecuba.com. There should be streaming video on both sites as well.
If El Nuevo Herald can be trusted, the Boston Red Sox just obliterated the record international amateur signing bonus by inking Dominican SS/3B Michael Almanazar to a $3 million contract to open their 2007 signing season with a bang. Among other things, this ends the reign of Joel Guzman’s hold on the title, and the former Dodger turned Devil Rays farmhand will now almost certainly be relegated to obscurity.
Update: Reader Navin points out conflicting reports that have Almanazar’s bonus sitting at a measly $1.5 million. Perhaps Guzman’s name will live on as an answer to an obscure trivia question for another year.
Chris Kline, over at BA, offers up a laundry list of top international guys available this year. When it comes to working the phones on the international guys, Kline’s the man. The article is subscriber-only, but offers up some interesting nuggets I feel ok about reproducing here.
Most notably, this piece of information:
According to another source, the price tag for most players has been elevated this season because of the increased network of improved facilities and more agents than ever, especially in the Dominican and Venezuela, flooding those areas.
“It’s going to become more the norm than the exception,” a front office official from an American League club said. “The market is just so much more sophisticated than is was even five years ago.”
This has been happening the past few years, as the introduction of American agents has really revolutionized the international signing game, but the explosion of the market really went into overdrive last year, and signs point to that continuing.
The development of the international market and the closing of the gap in pricetags between Latin American players and players acquired through the draft is very good news. The more sophisticated the infrastructure of international scouting becomes, the closer we get to the possibility of an international draft.
Every once in awhile, I like to tune into minor league baseball games via the awesome centralized multimedia service offered by milb.com. I’ve spent a lot of time this past year in cities where you are not really supposed to go outside at night alone, so when I’m lucky enough to find myself in a place with 24-hour internet that isn’t fast enough to access mlb.tv (which is every connection I’ve experienced since leaving Okinawa), milb gameday audio is a nice alternative to keep affiliated baseball as a part of my life.
This is usually a pretty enjoyable experience, but for the love of God, minor league baseball needs to take its announcers aside, organize a 5-minute conference call, and teach them how the hell to pronounce the names of Latin American baseball players.
Memo to every announcer I’ve ever heard butcher names: VOWEL SOUNDS DON’T CHANGE IN SPANISH! Each vowel has a distinct sound, and none of them are ever silent. It takes 30 seconds to learn how to pronounce Spanish names and words. Once you learn it, you’re set for life.
Repeat after me:
There. There are a couple other little tricks (ll is pronounced ‘y’), but for the most part, now you know how to pronounce every single Latin American name you will ever be confronted with in the broadcast booth, and you are better at your job because of it.
Hat tip to friend of Global Baseball David Cairns, who sent along a link to information for the 2007 list of players invited to the 2007 MLB Australian Academy. The names can be found here. While Australia’s been pretty short on impact talent lately, anyone you see signing this season out of Australia will almost definitely come from this list.
Occasionally, teams will sign an international kid and, if they are unable to get him a visa in time, they’ll pay him a rookie-ball salary and have him work out at the Australian Academy to get ready to begin affiliated ball the next season.
The players at this year’s academy who are already signed:
Justin Erasmus, RHP, Red Sox
David Harriot, RHP, Red Sox
Michael Lennox, INF, Red Sox
Elliot Biddle, LHP, Twins
Taylor Rowe, RHP, Twins
Kable Hogben, RHP, Diamondbacks
Jacob Reust, RHP, Indians
Ryan Searle, RHP, Cubs
Angus Roeger, Phillies, OF
Lachlan Hodge, Mets, LHP
Deep-minors prospect divers can check out the stats for the MLBAAP here, but keep in mind they mean absolutely nothing.
RHP Tim Stanford, one of the unsigned pitchers out of New South Wales, auditioned for a few teams last year, but experienced a sudden drop in velocity at the exact wrong time. He was hitting the upper-80s with a decent curve as a 17-year-old last year, but was only throwing 82-83 come tryout time. He was described by Australia’s #1 player agent Trevor Jarret as “my star prospect” half a year ago, so if his stuff’s back this summer, he’s a likely sign.
Keeping the kids company are a pair of 20-year-olds from Korea and the Czech Republic.
- Listin Diario
- Taiwan Baseball
- UK Baseball Fans!
- Mariner Minors
- Dominican Summer League
- Flintoff and Dunn’s Australian Baseball Page
- Nicaraguan Winter League
- Columbian Winter League
- Mexican Winter League
- Venezuelan Winter League
- Cuban Baseball Federation
- Puerto Rican Baseball
- Global Baseball’s 2006 International Bonus Database
- African Baseball
- Angel Villalona
- Australian Baseball
- Ballpark Antics
- Batista Blog
- Buscon System
- Caribbean Series
- Carlos Triunfel
- Chinese Baseball
- Chris Snelling
- Cuban Baseball
- Daisuke Matsuzaka
- Dominican Baseball
- Dutch Baseball
- Dutch Prospects
- European Baseball
- Fantasy Baseball
- Felix Hernandez
- Hardball Times
- IBAF World Cup
- International Signings
- Israeli Baseball
- Local Media
- Minor League Free Agents
- Random Musings
- Scouting Trends
- Signing Period
- South African Baseball
- Taiwanese Baseball
- Willy Aybar
- Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
- Women's Baseball
- World Cup