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Chip R
03-26-2008, 10:45 PM
Over on the minor league forum, M2 mentioned that the Reds have some players who hail from eastern Eurpope in their minor leagues. As a casual observer of the minor leagues I was a bit surprised that there are players from that area in organized baseball - although I shouldn't be.

My question is, and this is mainly for you guys who have coached teens, can you get kids who have not played baseball - organized or unorganized - from a foreign country who are athletic (excels in soccer, hockey, basketball) and turn them into big leaguers?

We know it can be done with kids from the Dominican who play on the streets as little kids with broomsticks and bottlecaps but they know how the game is played and they develop those instincts: throwing to the right base, hitting to the opposite field, hitting the cutoff man, mixing up your pitches, baserunning, etc. All those things that have been burned into our skulls since Little League. We've seen kids from Taiwan dominate the Little League World Series but they have Little League there and in Japan and other foreign countries.

Is it possible, with the right coaching, to get some teen age athletes who have zero experience playing baseball but are athletically gifted to be good ballplayers or are they always going to be held back because of their lack of instincts for the game? If they can, there could be a whole untapped market out there for foreign players

savafan
03-26-2008, 11:09 PM
The following countries currently have professional baseball leagues:

Armenia
Austria
Belarus
Belgium
Bulgaria
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Great Britain
Greece
Hungary
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Moldova
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russia
San Marino
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey
Ukraine

camisadelgolf
03-26-2008, 11:13 PM
The brain-muscle memory training it takes to hit/throw a baseball must be incredibly refined to be a professional baseball player. I think there are kids all over the world who can make the jump in a reasonably short period of time, but I'm not sure there are enough to justify the money that would need to be spent to sift through all the duds. And from the kid's point of view, it's probably in his best interest to refine his game more publicly in the even that he shows enough promise to garner a hefty signing bonus.

redsmetz
03-27-2008, 06:30 AM
I think we've only got one Eastern Eureopean player, Cech. M2 mentioned Ruzic, but he's Australian and someone else mentioned Lutz, but he's German and mostly likely originally from West Germany.

Back to your earlier question, I think if you start players young enough, they can learn it and ultimately prevail at the highest levels of play. The German Lutz, for example, seems to have played for a team called the Mainz Athletics, in the German Bundesliga (literally Federal League) and their web page shows teams of all ages. Many years ago, we had friends come back to visit from Germany with their kids and they asked one day to learn to play baseball. Their older son was smacking the daylight out of my soft pitches and they went to Sports of All Sorts and bought some equipment and took it home. He was teaching his friends how to play after he got home.

I'm surprised at the extent of league play throughout Europe. Lutz presently plays for the German National team for the Olympics and there is now a Eureopean baseball federation. See http://www.baseballeurope.com/ - click on the link for countries, it's incredible. Under Russia, it talks about the 20th anniversary of the Russian Baseball Federation.

camisadelgolf
03-27-2008, 07:33 AM
Donald Lutz was actually born in the States (New York, I think). The Reds have a handful of Italian players, though.

mth123
03-27-2008, 07:59 AM
I think Ruzic is out of the organization. Don't have time to verify, perhaps some one else can correct me.

camisadelgolf
03-27-2008, 09:01 AM
I think Ruzic is out of the organization. Don't have time to verify, perhaps some one else can correct me.

Dashan Ruzic was a minor league free agent, and there has been no announcement of him being re-signed by the Reds (that I could find).

redsmetz
03-27-2008, 10:22 AM
Donald Lutz was actually born in the States (New York, I think). The Reds have a handful of Italian players, though.

Actually the Lutz showing in our system is Derrik Lutz and he was born in Washington, PA currently on the Sarasota roster. The link shown earlier showed a Donald Lutz signed from Germany, but he's not showing up under minorleaguebaseball.com and he seems to be playing with the German national Olympic team, but we apparently did sign him. Likewise, I'm not sure where the Italian players are playing right now. It would be interesting to see a complete breakdown of the non-Latin foreign players right now.

camisadelgolf
03-27-2008, 10:39 AM
Donald Lutz was born in Waterton, New York but resides in Regensburg, Germany.

redsmetz
03-27-2008, 10:41 AM
Donald Lutz was born in Waterton, New York but resides in Regensburg, Germany.

Thanks for the correction.

camisadelgolf
03-27-2008, 11:06 AM
Here's how the international signing breaks down by my tally:

2005
2 Columbia
7 Dominican Republic
3 Mexico
2 Panama
6 Venezuela

2006
1 Australia
1 Czech Republic
10 Dominican Republic
13 Venezuela

2007
2 Australia
1 Canada
17 Dominican Republic
1 Germany
3 Italy
1 Netherlands Antilles
2 Taiwan
4 Venezuela

2008
3 Dominican Republic
2 Valenzuela

redsmetz
03-27-2008, 12:58 PM
Here's how the international signing breaks down by my tally:

2008
3 Dominican Republic
2 Valenzuela

Yes, but we sent one of the Valenzuelas back to the Braves! :D