View Full Version : Pursuit of Youth in Latin America

06-29-2008, 07:20 AM
Great article about the Reds in Latin America and how the system works down there


The Reds are suddenly very popular with the "buscones" who haul talent around to various camps. And they are still in the mix for Inoa, even after the money spent on Juan Duran and Yorman Rodriguez.

06-29-2008, 09:39 AM
Great read. I had no idea how important it was to have credibility with the buscones. If we get Iona, they will bring in every talent they can find to our camps. That only means great things for the future.

06-29-2008, 10:38 AM
Was Johnny Almarez the head of the Reds' Latin America scouting before? And if so, after his fall out with Krivsky, is anyone really missing him now?

06-29-2008, 10:42 AM
That only means great things for the future.

or much more money down other ratholes

the Reds will always be about spending money wisely, not about spending money. Maybe the Duran money (is it now up to $3mill not $2mill?) will turn out to be well-spent-- but it'll never be like giving Johnny Cueto $5000 to sign, nor about the great low-priced signings that catapulted the Blue Jays to prominence in the late '80's. this is a different ballgame, and the Reds' margin for error is extremely slim.

06-29-2008, 12:05 PM
Pursuit of youth a Reds success
Team has come far in Latin America

By Paul Daugherty pdaugherty@enqurier.com June 29, 2008

By Wednesday afternoon, a 16-year-old, 6-foot-7, 210-pound right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic could become an instant multi-millionaire. It's just a question of which major-league team will do the paying.

Michael Inoa throws his fastball 93 mph and has a curveball and a changeup he can throw for strikes. He is being wooed by at least three teams, the Reds among them. At last glance, the asking price to sign Inoa was $4 million. Oakland has the inside track.

Cincinnati might not win Inoa. But the Reds are in the game, and there is no denying the importance of that. "Without a big Latin American presence now, you're lost," Reds director of Latin American scouting Tony Arias said.

It's not enough to draft well, or spend well on free agents or swing killer trades for the likes of Edinson Volquez. You have to dance to the Latin beat, too. If you don't hear the music, you've missed a very big show.

The Reds weren't players in Latin America until people convinced The Big Man of its importance. Before Bob Castellini took over ownership, the "buscones" in the Dominican Republic - street agents shopping hot prospects - ignored Cincinnati's scouts and tryouts.

"The buscones didn't bring the better players to our camp," said Reds assistant general manager Bob Miller. "We weren't spending more than $25,000 on a player, so they said, 'Why bother?' "

Or as Arias put it, "They thought the Reds were just window shopping."

That changed last March, when Cincinnati spent $3 million on another gangly 16-year-old, 6-6 outfielder Juan Duran. "That gave us tremendous credibility with the buscones," said Arias.

It also helps that the Reds' roster includes Volquez, Francisco Cordero and Johnny Cueto. All are Dominican and well known in their home country. So well known, in fact, that each talked with Inoa on the phone two weeks ago, lobbying him to sign with Cincinnati.

Twenty years ago, the Dominican was fertile and all but untapped. Now, there are no secrets, and the money has exploded. Arias and Reds scouting director Chris Buckley worked in Toronto, where the Blue Jays mined Dominican gold to win two World Series in the early 90s. "In the old days, it was a new frontier," Buckley said. "Now, everybody's there."

Not everybody has access to the top prospects, though. It's a matter of credibility and relationships, meaning, if you have the money and the people we can trust, we will bring our player for you to watch. Here's how it works:

The buscones latch on to the best players at an early age. Sometimes, if a player comes from a family, a buscone take him in. By the time the players are 13 or 14, the buscones begin taking them around the major-league "academies" in the Dominican. The Reds' academy, run by Mario Soto in the town of Boca Chica, is shared with three other clubs, Arizona, Minnesota and the Chicago Cubs.

International players can sign with a major-league club beginning July 2, if they are 16 and will turn 17 after Sept. 6. Players 17 years or older can sign at any time.

The buscones bring the younger players around "to whet our appetites," Miller says.

Tryouts often are held after Dominican Summer League games. Clubs in the mix must show they're willing to pay, and that's why Cincinnati's signing of Duran was crucial. It's also good if a club has built a good relationship with the buscones.

This is starting to sound like college basketball recruiting. But we digress.

Arias has spent his career working Latin America. Another Reds scout, Miguel Machado, is Venezuelan. If it gets to the point it has with Inoa, the Reds bring in Buckley's expertise.

Judging the potential of a 16-year-old is difficult in the States. Try it on a kid who doesn't have the luxury of proper nutrition and training. To figure what a Latin player is worth, the Reds need to decide where he might fit in the major-league draft. It's a risk, but, Arias said, "It's a risk we have to take."

It works out well for the player and his buscone. The Latin phenom isn't selling his services only to the team that drafts him; he's playing all 30 clubs. Or, as Buckley said, somewhat jokingly, "If you have a great kid, get him to move outside the U.S."

The Reds think Juan Duran, a skinny kid Arias says already has 400-foot power to all fields, would have been a middle first-round draft pick, even at age 16. They think the same of Michael Inoa. Hence, Inoa's $4 million price tag isn't excessive. Inoa also has American representation, an L.A.-based agent named Adam Katz.

"(Inoa) is retiring everybody I've seen," Arias said by cell phone from Boca Chica while watching a game.

Arias speaks glowingly of Inoa's coordination, and the fact that at 6-7, he can repeat his delivery and throw strikes with his breaking ball. Arias won't rate the Reds' chances of signing him. He praises ownership's willingness to be in the Latin dance, though.

"You're either in the game down here, or you're going for second-tier guys," Arias said. "The only way to survive is to take risks in Latin America."

Sometime Wednesday, a 16-year-old, 6-7, 210-pound righthanded pitcher from the Dominican Republic could become an instant multi-millionaire. It's just a question of which major-league team will do the paying.

The Reds are in the mix for Michael Inoa. Progress assumes many forms.

E-mail pdaugherty@enqurier.com">pdaugherty@enqurier.com


06-29-2008, 12:45 PM
above excerpted from a copyrighted book with "no repro" warning on page so just the link is given

The next link is reproduced here from the Dominican baseball website. Both these stories with the other link I posted above to start this thread give a pretty good picture of the state of baseball scouting and development in the DR

Player Development

The Dominican passion for baseball is evident on sandlots cut into the parks, sugar cane fields and other patches of sun-scorched earth where Dominican boys learn to emulate their homegrown heroes like Miguel Tejada and Vladimir Guerrero. These boys dream of making it to the majors and once they complete their mandatory educational commitment – fifth grade – many turn their attention to developing their baseball skills.

More than 800,000 children play organized baseball in the Dominican Republic – nearly 10 percent of the population. Teams can be found in every town, barrio, and crossroad. Formal leagues, traveling teams, and government-sponsored tournaments provide many venues for players to develop their skills and showcase their talent. Most of the activity is under the watchful eye of a coach, a sponsor, or a scout…everyone looking for the next “big thing”.

Private coaches or buscones work tirelessly and compete frantically to develop that one great player that will produce a life-changing financial windfall – for player and coach. In some ways they mirror the larger Dominican society – they have identified a need or opportunity and then work relentlessly to improve their standing in life. Outside the purview of the Major League Baseball player draft, all Dominican players are free agents – available on the open market to the highest bidder. Some buscones “hide” their prize players in remote locations to keep competitors away and to prevent MLB scouts from signing the player before an optimal price can be obtained.

The ultimate destination for any young player is a Major League Baseball academy, which serves as their proving ground and ultimately the provider of an “admission ticket” to the United States. The core mission of the academies is to take raw talent and refine it into minor league capabilities. But there are several other important activities. Most young Dominicans have not had access to western standards of health care and nutrition. Therefore, there bodies will undergo a significant transformation during their two- to three-year stay at the academy. This is why even the most talented Dominicans enter the major leagues at a slightly older age than their American counterparts. Language and culture are also taught. Many Dominican minor leaguers struggle with the transition to the rules and social norms in the United States and end up returning to the Dominican Republic as another casualty.

06-29-2008, 01:14 PM
I usually don't like Paul Daugherty but that was a pretty good article. It's nice to finally see the Reds making an impact in the Latin countries and using the Latin flavor of Cueto, Cordero, and Volquez to their advantage. Having already signed Juan Duran for two million, and with reports of the Reds reaching an agreement with Yorman Rodriguez with him looking for 2.5-3 million, and the Reds still in the running for Inoa, it looks like Castellini was willing to spend roughly 10 million dollars on three players alone. Most likely the Reds won't land all three but it shows how much Castellini wants to win.

06-29-2008, 02:16 PM
That's one of Daugherty's best articles i've read in a while.