Global Baseball

One man\’s year-long journey through the world of baseball

BA Discusses This Year’s Crop

Chris Kline over at Baseball America has done yoeman’s work over the past 12 months or so in improving American sports media’s coverage of international signings by leaps and bounds. Last year, Kline surveyed a number of Latin American scouting directors and published a preliminary list of top names for the upcoming signing season – sending prospect junkies and hardcore fans into a frenzy daydreaming about their team’s next great Latin American (or Asian, or Australian) phenom.

Kline’s coverage starts early this year, in a blurb in his latest prospect pulse (subscriber only – sorry) . In it, he mentions 3 Dominican outfielders generating buzz as teams start formulating opinions and priorities in ancipation of July 2, 2007. The first names to remember: Ricardo Garcia, Itaniel Guzman, and Anderson Pujols (no clue if there’s any relation).

Kline also reports that he’s hearing the two Boston signees, Angel Beltre and Oscar Tejeda, along with Venezuelan Yankees’ signee Jose Pirela, are widely considered the best hauls/values of last year’s signing period. I’ve heard similar things about Beltre, who has been universally praised by everyone I’ve spoken to.

As exciting as it is to have real coverage of the international talent pool, we should remember that the whole process, while slightly more reliable than throwing darts blindfolded at sticky notes on a wall, is pretty much a crapshoot. This guy signed for $500,000 with the Cubs in 2002, and put together a .525 minor league OPS over 3 seasons before the team decided to try converting him to the mound in ’04. This one was an $800,000 signing just 3 years ago. This guy looks likely to resurrect his career as a relief pitcher after signing a bonus north of $700,000 to play third base in the late ’90s. And of course, the jury’s still out on this kid, inked to the largest bonus ($710,000) given to a pitcher in 2005, but initial results don’t look too hot (the Brewers are still cautiously optimistic).

Has Latin American scouting somehow gotten better in the past few years? Doubtful. The same guys are still in control of the budgets, and player development has not gotten any better regulated since teams handed out those contracts. It’s much more likely that the international scouting game is every bit the educated crapshoot it’s always been, and most (if not all) of the players who have become household names among their teams’ most dedicated fans thanks to unprecedented exposure will become colossal disappointments.

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February 17, 2007 - Posted by | Signing Period

1 Comment »

  1. I believe Rolando Pascual has only one season under his belt. It often times takes several years to these young players to turn their tools into solid numbers.

    Comment by Phil Case | March 6, 2007


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