Global Baseball

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

8 Year-Old Makes National News for No-Hitter

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.

August 9, 2006 Posted by | Local Media | 4 Comments

First Contact!

On Monday, I took in a game between the DSL Cubs and the DSL Giants at “Baseball City,” a compound outside the beachfront town of Boca Chica that houses the academies of the Cubs, Twins, Reds, and Diamondbacks.

While I spent a lot of time touring the Cubs’ academy, watching a few amateur tryouts, and interviewing the Cubs’ head scout, I was able to check out a fair amount of the game.

The players don’t have names on the backs of their jerseys, and short of walking into the team’s dugouts, getting a lineup card wasn’t looking too feasible. However, a Cubs’ representative was able to give me a copy of his team’s roster, so I was at least able to attach names to the bodies in blue out on the field.

By far the most impressive player in the game I saw, both offensively and defensively, was 2B Elvis Lara. He didn’t come up with any big hits (an infield single and an RBI chopper were the extent of his contributions), but he covers the plate incredibly well and his 2 outs were scorching line drives. Made 3 incredible plays up the middle, too. He’s already 19, but this is his first year with the organization. I looked up the Cubs’ stats, and they confirmed what I saw with my eyes: he’s easily been the best hitter on the team all year.

A 17-year-old outfielder by the name of Kelvin Soto displayed some solid gap power and the ability to take a walk, but looking at the stats, it looks like I caught him on a good day as he hasn’t performed well consistently.

The defense, as with the other DSL game I’ve seen (Ms vs. Cardinals) was predictably raw, and only Lara even closely resembled a major-league defender. Any time you see a player who has racked up a lot of triples (or even doubles) in the Dominican Summer League, it’s a good bet that half of them were balls that should have been caught by a center fielder who’s still working on learning how to play a ball hit over his head.

As far as local media goes, I’ve been scouring newspapers looking at the way the DSL is covered down here, and with the exception of one daily…it’s not. In general, the Dominican press is more concerned with reporting on the successes of Dominican players in the big leagues than with covering what’s happening locally.

The one exception (so far) was a feature on Washington Nationals’ reliever Atahualpa Severino. Severino’s a 21-year-old working his way back from Tommy John surgery, and has been dominant on a level considered incredible even for the pitching-friendly DSL. It’s rare to see a 21-year-old still hanging around the DSL, but when an organization decides to keep a player around that long, chances are he’s either suffered a setback due to injury, or he’s a lefthanded pitcher. Severino is both. The report, featured in yesterday’s Listin Diario, was concerned primarily with detailing Severino’s success (44 and walked 3 in 18 innings, good for a 0.50 ERA), and repertoire (fastball sitting in the 90-92 range, and a quality curve and slider). While we get precious little in the way of a backstory here, it does say that Severino signed for a $6,000 bonus a few years ago. This is his second season in the DSL, and his first since his surgery last year. Players are only allowed a maximum of 3 years before they’re either released or sent up to their teams’ US system.

Also from the Listin Diario (though not available online for some reason), one of the larger youth leagues down here in the DR released annual honors today.

In the age 13-14 category, a kid named Joel Jimenez was named player of the year, and Amado Pena took home the honor of pitcher of the year.

The other age levels make a distinction between “player of the year” and “most valuable player” (probably to honor more kids, though I hope to get confirmation in the form of an interview with the league’s officials before too long).

The players of the year:

Age 11-12: Erick Peralta
9-10: Joel Gonzalez
7-8: Deiker Beriguete

Most Valuable Players:
11-12: Yeison Pujols
9-10: Joán Martinez
7-8: Victor Estevez

I wonder if I’m alone in being surprised that a national newspaper is publicizing the names of “prospects” as young as 8 years old. Crazy.

July 19, 2006 Posted by | DSL, Local Media | 7 Comments