August 30th, 2006
Apologies to those of you expecting more regular updates. I’ve been travelling around the country a lot over the past couple of weeks. I’ve seen some amazing things, including (but not limited to) some great baseball. The DSL season wrapped up on August 25th and the playoffs began on Monday.
Current matchups in the first, best of 3 round:
DSL Yankees (1) vs. DSL Indians. Series tied 1-1. Perhaps interesting to some, this series features the DSL’s two most educated teams. Most major league teams put effort into teaching their players’ English, but the Yankees and Indians are really ahead of the game in the player services department. The Yankees have their players go through a full, 4-subject class schedule every day after drills and games. The Indians actually pay for their kids to go to private school. This is part of a larger philosophy that believes in a correlation between education and the average player’s ability to transition effectively to life in the United States.
The other match-ups are the Santo Domingo Norte champion Mariners vs. the Royals, who ran away with the Cibao division title. The series is tied 1-1, with the deciding game taking place today outside of Cibao. The Ms have better pitching, but the Royals’ offense is significantly better.
The other two playoff teams are the Tigers and Pirates, from Santo Domingo Oeste and San Pedro de Macoris, respectively. I’m unclear on the playoff format. I do know that these two teams haven’t played a game against each other yet, and while I was at the Ms-Royals game yesterday, somebody told me that the winning team would go on to face the DSL Pirates, so I’m assuming that these teams both got byes into the semifinals.
In other news, I have a guest post up at Mariner Minors. I cut my teeth on baseball blogging as an Ms fan following the several excellent blogs out there covering the Mariners, and I was able to dig up a bunch of information of particular interest to Mariners’ prospect junkies. I figured MM was the best place to share it with people. If you’re an Ms fan, J. does great work over there, tirelessly digging up any and all information out there on Seattle’s farm system.
Finally, for general reading pleasure (assuming anyone still reads this blog after my hiatus), I decided to participate in Aaron Gleeman’s baseball bloggers’ Ipod Shuffle share. Here’s what came up after I shuffled through 50 songs. Feel free to criticize my taste in music mercilessly. I know what I like.
1. Bob Dylan, To Be Alone With You
2. Ween, Poop Ship Destroyer
3. Taj Mahal, Big Legged Mamas Are Back In Style Again
4. Charles Mingus, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
5. Paul Simon, Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard
6. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Aimum
7. J-Live, Timeless
8. Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer, Largo from Sonata
9. Nirvana, Old Age
10. Eels, Fresh Feeling
11. They Might Be Giants, ‘Till My Head Falls Off
12. Dilated Peoples, Self Defense
13. Buena Vista Social Club, Chan Chan
14. Bob Dylan, Buckets of Rain
15. Wyclef Jean, Year of the Dragon
16. John Lee Hooker, Boom Boom
17. Woody Guthrie, Baltimore to Washington
18. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Universally Speaking
19. Bob Dylan, Winterlude
20. Oscar Peterson, Who Can I Turn To?
21. Beck, Nitemare Hippy Girl
22. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Foggy Mountain Breakdown
23. Broken Social Scene, Baroque Social
24. Arlo Guthrie, Last Train
25. Third Eye Navigators, Scholaticians
26. Eels, Rags to Rags
27. Johnny Cash, When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder
28. Grateful Dead, I Know You Rider,
29. New Grass Revival, Good Woman’s Love
30. Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach, Caravan
31. Gram Parsons, Knee Deep in the Blues
32. Wilco, How To Fight Loneliness
33. The Clash, Spanish Bombs
34. Yann Tiersen, Le Banquet (Amelie Soundtrack)
35. Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, and Guy Clark, Tom Ames’ Prayer
36. New Grass Revival, Souvenir Bottles,
37. Erik Petersen, Every Town Will Celebrate,
38. Aesop Rock, Skip Town,
39. The Seldom Scene, Doing My Time,
40. Credence Cleerwater Revival, Who’ll Stop The Rain?
41. Django Reinhardt, Naguine
42. Johnny Cash, Delia’s Gone
43. Pete Seeger, My Get Up and Go
44. Kris Kristofferson, The Junkie and the Juicehead, Minus Me
45. Robert Blake, A Hackensack Bar
46. Cat Stevens, Can’t Keep It In
47. The Pixies, Gouge Away
48. Dry Branch Fire Squad, Down South in New Orleans
49. Sage Francis, Crack Pipes
50. Femi Kuti, Do Your Best
Down here, this gets a 300-word article and a color photograph in the nation´s most widely-read newspaper. The article´s in Spanish, but the point´s pretty easy to grasp. Some kid in some league in Santo Domingo threw a no-hitter in the ´infantil´division (7-8 year old age group).
If this seems like shameless over-promotion to you, you´re not alone. To be fair, I´ve never spoken to a scout for a major-league team who admits to paying attention to this kind of publicity. However, if they did, they would hardly be willing to share it with me, as it´s supposed to be illegal to scout anyone under the age of 16.
For some reason, though, youth baseball, particularly publishing names of Santo Domingo´s best pre-teen baseball players, gets more attention in the nation´s newspapers than the Dominican Summer League.
El Nacional´s report earlier this week that Yulieski Gourriel and Eduardo Paret defected in Cartagena now appears to be 100% fabricated. That´s right, the captain of Cuba´s national team is safe and sound at his home in Havana, according to a considerably more reputable Dominican newspaper.
Today´s print edition of the Listin Diario featured a blurb in which Paret said that he was praying for Fidel Castro´s recuperation.
The wire report was filed from Havana.
Of course, if Castro kicks the bucket and Cuba begins the process of Democratic reform, an opening of the flood gates could very well occur. Somehow I doubt we´ll be seeing Major League Baseball setting up a CSL anytime soon, though.
Nope, not one of the Boras guys. We’ll probably have to wait a week or two for one of those signings to come down.
The Yankees signed Dominican infielder Damian Taveras yesterday to a $200,000 bonus.
Yankees officials praised Taveras’s discipline, intelligence, and hitting ability. Latin-American supervisor Victor Mata compared his body type to Jorge Posada, but said that the team will try to develop him at short, second, and third. He looks to have been signed primarily for his bat, as Yankees’ regional scout Jose Luna praised his swing but said he needed to work a bit on his glove and his footwork.
Also in today’s Listin Diario, a piece about the Nationals’ desire to be “The Kings of the Carribbean” as far as recruiting Dominican prospects goes.
With the huge advantage in both cash and name recognition New York and Boston enjoy down here…good luck. Spending close to half a million more than the next highest bid for Esmailyn Gonzalez makes more sense in this context.
Today I went to a tryout of 4 Cuban defectors at the Arizona Diamondbacks´ academy. The scene there was wild. The players´agent told me that at least 26 major-league teams had their scouts in attendance. No idea about the identity of the few teams who weren´t interested, but I was able to pick out reps from the Devil Rays, Yankees, Mets, Giants, Cubs, Mariners, Braves, Indians, Diamondbacks, Reds, Twins, Brewers, and Nationals.
The scouts who came were a bit disappointed to find out that the most interesting player, 23-year-old pitcher Sergei Linares, was suffering from food poisoning. Linares is reported to throw in the high 90s, but he was held out of the simulated game and limited to a side-throwing session.
The other three players are 22 y/o shortstop Yohannis Perez, 23 y/o catcher Alexis Fonesca, and 25 y/o RHP Yoslan Herrera.
Perez, who was also suffering from foid poisoning, is a line-drive hitting shortstop who drew wide praise for his footwork and glove. His bat wasn´t on display too much today, as the raw DSL pitchers he faced nearly hit him five times. He ended up taking a couple of walks on pitches nowhere near the zone and hitting a double in what I saw of the simulated game.
Fonesca displayed solid gap power, going 4-for-4 in the at-bats I witnessed, with 2 doubles and 2 triples. Against better defenders, those triples would have been a double and a single, but his bat definitely drew some interest.
Herrera was nowhere near as hyped as Linares, but seemed to handle himself just fine in the tryout. His fastball was sitting between 90-92, and the DSL Devil Rays, who served as the whipping boys for this exhibition, were helpless against his breaking ball.
The prevailing opinion of the people I spoke with was that Linares and Perez were the best of the group. It’s possible that these players could get bonuses north of $1 million.
In terms of market value, nobody´s really sure how to treat Cuban players yet. In the wake of the Contreras signing, the prevailing wisdom was that the Cuban mystique caused teams to overrate – and overpay – defectors. The Yuniesky Betancourt signing, which turned out to be a huge bargain, changed all that. There hasn´t been a significant Cuban signing since Betancourt came over, and none of the scouts I talked to today had any idea what these players´ price range would be.
I should have pictures of the 4 Cuban players in the next couple of days.
Updating a previous item, it appears El Nacional jumped the gun when it reported on Gourriel´s defection.
The story I´ve gotten from a couple of sources is as follows:
Baseball insiders had been speculating about a potential Gourriel defection throughout the Central-American games. One of the biggest reasons Gourriel was considered a low defection risk was the family connection. During the games in Cartagena, however, Lourdes Gourriel was with the University of Havana team competing at a tournament in Ecuador. With the possibility of the simultaneous defections of father and son, the rumor mill ran rampant.
At this point details are still unclear, but the consensus is that Gourriel did not defect, and has no plans to do so.
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