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OnBaseMachine
11-04-2008, 02:34 PM
Reds investing heavily in Latin players
Guillon latest signing as part of team's aggressive strategy

By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
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CINCINNATI -- The Reds have spent years watching other clubs use their financial and scouting muscles to pluck the best and brightest young prospects out of Latin America.

This year, however, it's been Cincinnati doing some impressive flexing.

Last week, the Reds signed hotly pursued 16-year-old left-handed pitcher Ismael Guillon out of Venezuela. He received a $625,000 signing bonus.

It wasn't even close to the highest amount of money the Reds have doled out to Latin teenagers this year. This past summer, they gave outfielder Juan Duran a $2 million bonus to sign and outfielder Yorman Rodriguez received $2.5 million. Like Guillon, both players were 16 years old at the time of their signings, but Duran and Rodriguez hail from the Dominican Republic.

The moves have been part of an aggressive organizational strategy.

"One, we knew going into the June Draft that we'd be missing a second-round pick as compensation for signing [closer] Francisco Cordero," Reds senior scouting director Chris Buckley said. "We tried to be creative and come up with that pick some other way. Ownership was behind this program and supported it and came up with the money, so we got them."

Giving out six- and seven-figure dollars to kids barely old enough to drive a car poses considerable risk. Just like players taken in the First-Year Player Draft for less money, it's possible that none of these three big-bonus players will ever play an inning in the Majors.

"Anything is risky with any guys," Buckley said. "[Giving millions to 2008 first-round pick] Yonder Alonso was a risk. We're in the acquisition business. But we had five or six people see these guys. We're trying to add talent as much as we can."

Several of the organization's scouts had followed Guillon all summer, but he held off signing on the July 2 international signing date. In September, Buckley said he and international scout Tony Arias went to Venezuela to watch Guillon play. Although he is a good hitter who plays first base, the Reds were most interested in his pitching ability.

Guillon, who is 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, reportedly throws an 88-92-mph fastball.

"Left-handed pitching is the ultimate commodity in this game," Buckley said. "He's going to get bigger and stronger. A number of teams were in there. We followed him all year and hoped the market would come down a bit. He still signed for quite a lot of money."

It's possible that Guillon, Duran and Rodriguez could be playing rookie-level ball in the Gulf Coast League next season. Duran and Rodriguez came to Sarasota, Fla., this fall and participated in the instructional league.

Duran is currently playing in the Dominican instructional league, while Guillon and Rodriguez are playing winter ball in Venezuela.

Despite the recent big-ticket signing, don't expect the Reds to tighten the purse strings in Latin America. Buckley said the strategy will continue. The organization has tried to ramp up efforts with its Asian scouting, but it has not yielded any signings, yet.

"We're definitely trying to add international talent," Buckley said. "We're trying to build this thing from the bottom up and keep adding talent to the farm system."

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081104&content_id=3663166&vkey=news_cin&fext=.jsp&c_id=cin

OnBaseMachine
11-04-2008, 02:48 PM
Great article. It's been confirmed in a Venezuelan newspaper that Guillon turned down a $1.2 million offer from the Mets back in September. I knew he took less money to sign with the Reds because he's friends with Yorman Rodriguez but I didn't know it was *that* much. That's half of what the Mets offered him. He's a good sized kid at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds but there's still a little room for projection too. He sounds like a very good signing.

I love the fact that the Reds are serious about being major players in the International scene. It sounds like the Reds plan on making this a yearly thing. I'm also glad to hear they're beefing up their efforts in Asia, too. I'm feeling very good about this organization right now and the direction they're headed in.

kheidg-
11-04-2008, 02:51 PM
I don't know all that much about each player, but why all the love for Juan Duran instead of Yorman Rodriguez. Rodriguez got the higher bonus...?

redhawk61
11-04-2008, 03:21 PM
Duran would have gotten a much larger bonus if he had other suitors, but the Reds found a loop hole making them the only team negotiating with him, and gave him a reasonable offer which would allow him to start sooner.

bucksfan2
11-04-2008, 03:42 PM
Great article. It's been confirmed in a Venezuelan newspaper that Guillon turned down a $1.2 million offer from the Mets back in September. I knew he took less money to sign with the Reds because he's friends with Yorman Rodriguez but I didn't know it was *that* much. That's half of what the Mets offered him. He's a good sized kid at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds but there's still a little room for projection too. He sounds like a very good signing.

I love the fact that the Reds are serious about being major players in the International scene. It sounds like the Reds plan on making this a yearly thing. I'm also glad to hear they're beefing up their efforts in Asia, too. I'm feeling very good about this organization right now and the direction they're headed in.

Im not as excited as you are about the Reds spending money in Latin America. I think it is a good idea but they have dropped a lot of coin to players that have substantial barriers to hurdle in order to make it to the bigs. Duran, Rodriguez, and Guillon are all 16 year olds. That is insanely young to be committing a lot of money to. That is similar to throwing money at high school sophomores in the states. Not to mention that they sill have social and language obstacles to over come in order to make it to the bigs.

OTOH it is nice to see the Reds investing in an arena that they had stayed out of for years. If one of Rodriguez, Duran, or Guillon turn out to being a MLB or a MLB star then it was a great signing.

OnBaseMachine
11-04-2008, 03:55 PM
I don't know all that much about each player, but why all the love for Juan Duran instead of Yorman Rodriguez. Rodriguez got the higher bonus...?

Mario Soto was quoted as saying Duran was expected to receive $4-5 million dollars had he chosen to sign after the July 2nd period began. Both are tremendous prospects. Michel Inoa was probably the top overall prospect but Duran and Yorman were the best position prospects available. Duran has drawn comparisons to guys like Vladimir Guerrero and Dave Winfield while Yorman draws comparisons to Eric Davis and Cesar Cedeno for his great athleticism and power/speed combo.

Mario-Rijo
11-04-2008, 06:30 PM
I like hearing about them trying to get into the Asian market as well. But it doesn't suprise me, if one paid attention the past yr or 2 one would have noticed that they are looking under every rock. It's pretty nice to not be at a major disadvantage at the very least. And to be a potential leader in the pursuit of international players makes me feel really good about the direction of this franchise.

TRF
11-04-2008, 07:04 PM
I'd love to see them invest in South Africa. Not just the country, but the entire region. Talk about a world of untapped potential. There are a lot of athletes down there in need of quality instruction. Set up a baseball academy, sign a half dozen coaches willing to move to the other side of the world and reap the benefits. Even better would be a partnership with a few other clubs to form a league.

The Reds have to think global, but they have to look to untapped markets where signing a 16 year old doesn't cost them 2.5 mil.

OnBaseMachine
11-04-2008, 07:15 PM
Funny you should mention South Africa, TRF. The Pirates just signed an 18-year-old shortstop from South Africa a few days ago. His name is Mpho Ngoepe...below is an article on it:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08306/924598-63.stm?cmpid=pirates.xml

I'd like to see the Reds setup a baseball academy in Curacao. A guy over on Doug's site that knows Juan Carlos Sulbaran says he's trying to talk the Reds into setting up an academy down there. I think that would be a wise move. There are a lot of talented players starting to come from that area. One name to look for in about four years is Juremi Profar... He really stood out for the Curacao team in the Little League World Series. Orestes Destrade all but guaranteed he'll reach the majors someday.

RedlegJake
11-04-2008, 07:35 PM
Im not as excited as you are about the Reds spending money in Latin America. I think it is a good idea but they have dropped a lot of coin to players that have substantial barriers to hurdle in order to make it to the bigs. Duran, Rodriguez, and Guillon are all 16 year olds. That is insanely young to be committing a lot of money to. That is similar to throwing money at high school sophomores in the states. Not to mention that they sill have social and language obstacles to over come in order to make it to the bigs.

OTOH it is nice to see the Reds investing in an arena that they had stayed out of for years. If one of Rodriguez, Duran, or Guillon turn out to being a MLB or a MLB star then it was a great signing.

Naw. Its NOT a lot of money. It is a lot to you or to me, of course but the total spent signing prospects adds up to the equivalent of a one year salary for a decent utility player or middle reliever. If you can't put that much into international signings when that kind of talent is available then you shouldn't even be in the game. Baseball has reached the point financially where it is hard for middle class working people to keep amounts in perspective. A point where a middle of rotation starter barely better than league average will command ten million a year for 3 or 4 years. Heck I still remember clearly the Koufax-Drysdale holdout for a hundred grand and the stink that raised. Less than 20 years later the first million dollar a year player, And 20 years later - now - routine ten million a year contracts. And the players aren't robbing the owners or bankrupting the game, either - the money IS there. To compete in that kind of environment, if you're a small market player - then you had better be investing MORE than the big guys in the prospect arena - to win consistently you'll need a deep, continuous supply of good young players. The only way you can really get that edge (aside from making more astute picks in the regular draft) is internationally, where the regular draft rules don't apply and you can get a big advantage. I've posted before that the Reds need to keep doing this year after year - supplement the regular draft with several top international signings, and go way over slot to induce some supposedly college bound kids to sign that were passed for that reason. Both are ways to add the equivalent of multiple top 3-4 round picks to your regular draft each year.

dougdirt
11-04-2008, 07:39 PM
I'd love to see them invest in South Africa. Not just the country, but the entire region. Talk about a world of untapped potential. There are a lot of athletes down there in need of quality instruction. Set up a baseball academy, sign a half dozen coaches willing to move to the other side of the world and reap the benefits. Even better would be a partnership with a few other clubs to form a league.

The Reds have to think global, but they have to look to untapped markets where signing a 16 year old doesn't cost them 2.5 mil.

If the kid is talented enough, its going to cost that much no matter where you are from.

bucksfan2
11-05-2008, 09:43 AM
Naw. Its NOT a lot of money. It is a lot to you or to me, of course but the total spent signing prospects adds up to the equivalent of a one year salary for a decent utility player or middle reliever. If you can't put that much into international signings when that kind of talent is available then you shouldn't even be in the game. Baseball has reached the point financially where it is hard for middle class working people to keep amounts in perspective. A point where a middle of rotation starter barely better than league average will command ten million a year for 3 or 4 years. Heck I still remember clearly the Koufax-Drysdale holdout for a hundred grand and the stink that raised. Less than 20 years later the first million dollar a year player, And 20 years later - now - routine ten million a year contracts. And the players aren't robbing the owners or bankrupting the game, either - the money IS there. To compete in that kind of environment, if you're a small market player - then you had better be investing MORE than the big guys in the prospect arena - to win consistently you'll need a deep, continuous supply of good young players. The only way you can really get that edge (aside from making more astute picks in the regular draft) is internationally, where the regular draft rules don't apply and you can get a big advantage. I've posted before that the Reds need to keep doing this year after year - supplement the regular draft with several top international signings, and go way over slot to induce some supposedly college bound kids to sign that were passed for that reason. Both are ways to add the equivalent of multiple top 3-4 round picks to your regular draft each year.

Its not that dollar amount that has me skeptical rather the age. Duran got $2M and Rodriguez got $2.5M as 16 years olds. We are talking about sophomores and juniors in high school in America. What can $4.5M buy you in the baseball draft? How many first round talents can the Reds select in the later rounds and pay with that excess money? Cueto was signed for chump change. Was that the rule or an exception?

I do understand the nature of baseball and the insane amount of money that is handed out year after year after year. My question is there a better way to spend that money? $4.5M bought you two top 16 year olds in Latin America. Could $4.5M bought you two college seniors in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the amateur draft?

TRF
11-05-2008, 10:47 AM
If the kid is talented enough, its going to cost that much no matter where you are from.

Johnny Cueto says hi.

Eventually yes, you are absolutely right, but if a team can get into a region where nobody else is, make a solid presence, and take care of the players, then they have an advantage. The reason the Reds are spending so much jack in Latin America is to build a presence in where other teams have been for years. Throwing money there seems to be working. But being in on the ground floor might be cheaper and reap more long term benefits.

The Reds would need the right combination of scouts and instructors willing to go in on any academy outside the U.S.

bubbachunk
11-05-2008, 11:22 AM
Johnny Cueto says hi.

Eventually yes, you are absolutely right, but if a team can get into a region where nobody else is, make a solid presence, and take care of the players, then they have an advantage. The reason the Reds are spending so much jack in Latin America is to build a presence in where other teams have been for years. Throwing money there seems to be working. But being in on the ground floor might be cheaper and reap more long term benefits.

The Reds would need the right combination of scouts and instructors willing to go in on any academy outside the U.S.

Of course there are guys that will surprise you with talent when signing low/getting drafted late. Also your setting up an academy idea and getting players cheap would only work for so long I believe. I say this because eventually those kids will get pub for having talent (if in fact they do have it) and other teams will come in to start throwing money around.

TRF
11-05-2008, 11:32 AM
Of course there are guys that will surprise you with talent when signing low/getting drafted late. Also your setting up an academy idea and getting players cheap would only work for so long I believe. I say this because eventually those kids will get pub for having talent (if in fact they do have it) and other teams will come in to start throwing money around.

But by the time that happens, the Reds are entrenched and hopefully with a good reputation. And that helps alot.

bubbachunk
11-05-2008, 11:44 AM
But by the time that happens, the Reds are entrenched and hopefully with a good reputation. And that helps alot.

So why not entrench ourselves in Latin America where ML talent has come from?
I am not really disagreeing with another possible baseball academy just playing a little devils advocate.

dougdirt
11-05-2008, 12:38 PM
Johnny Cueto says hi.

Eventually yes, you are absolutely right, but if a team can get into a region where nobody else is, make a solid presence, and take care of the players, then they have an advantage. The reason the Reds are spending so much jack in Latin America is to build a presence in where other teams have been for years. Throwing money there seems to be working. But being in on the ground floor might be cheaper and reap more long term benefits.

The Reds would need the right combination of scouts and instructors willing to go in on any academy outside the U.S.

Sure, but when Johnny Cueto signed there were kids in the Dominican signing 7 figure deals. Want to know what gets you an advantage? When a guy like Ismael Guillon turns down 1.2 million from the Mets to sign with the Reds for 625,000 last month. He is really good friends with Yorman Rodriguez and signed with the Reds for a whole lot cheaper than he had on the table. The Reds seem to have a world wide presence currently, with signings out of Asia, Europe, Austrailia and Latin America.

TRF
11-05-2008, 01:02 PM
Sure, but when Johnny Cueto signed there were kids in the Dominican signing 7 figure deals. Want to know what gets you an advantage? When a guy like Ismael Guillon turns down 1.2 million from the Mets to sign with the Reds for 625,000 last month. He is really good friends with Yorman Rodriguez and signed with the Reds for a whole lot cheaper than he had on the table. The Reds seem to have a world wide presence currently, with signings out of Asia, Europe, Austrailia and Latin America.

You just made my point. It's a moneyball point too. Take advantage of inequities in the market. The Reds threw a ton of money at a half dozen guys and got one at half price in part because of it. Now imagine they throw a ton of money at 3-4 dozen guys where they have little or NO COMPETITION.

I'm not saying get out of Latin America. I'm saying get into an area filled with athletes and minimal MLB presence. Africa, certainly South Africa seem ready to jump into baseball at the world level. In fact there are a lot os similarities to Latin America in regards to the economic level of the prospective player.

It's win-win.

TRF
11-05-2008, 01:04 PM
So why not entrench ourselves in Latin America where ML talent has come from?
I am not really disagreeing with another possible baseball academy just playing a little devils advocate.

I'm not saying don't do that either. I am simply stating exploit an area like South Africa when it's in the early stages can reap a long term benefit. And initially it would also be cheaper. There is no reason not to.

dougdirt
11-05-2008, 01:09 PM
You just made my point. It's a moneyball point too. Take advantage of inequities in the market. The Reds threw a ton of money at a half dozen guys and got one at half price in part because of it. Now imagine they throw a ton of money at 3-4 dozen guys where they have little or NO COMPETITION.

I'm not saying get out of Latin America. I'm saying get into an area filled with athletes and minimal MLB presence. Africa, certainly South Africa seem ready to jump into baseball at the world level. In fact there are a lot os similarities to Latin America in regards to the economic level of the prospective player.

It's win-win.

Everyone signs kids for $5,000-$100,000 out of Latin America every year. Sometimes those kids turn into Jose Reyes, sometimes they turn into guys who never step foot on American soil as a baseball player. You have to get cheap guys and expensive guys to maximize your chances.

That said, you are right, it would be interesting to see the Reds go over there and see what happens. Thats a huge investment though and if it showed any progress you aren't going to have a monopoly for very long on the talent pool.

fearofpopvol1
11-05-2008, 01:18 PM
That said, you are right, it would be interesting to see the Reds go over there and see what happens. Thats a huge investment though and if it showed any progress you aren't going to have a monopoly for very long on the talent pool.

I don't think the monopoly approach is what the Reds should be concerned with so much as it is they should be concerned with establishing an early presence. It took the Reds a long time to catch up in Latin America...

dougdirt
11-05-2008, 01:19 PM
To go further on what TRF is suggesting, this is from yesterdays USA Today:



Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, two 19-year-olds from small villages in India, desperately want to live the American dream. Their shot at it is a decidedly improbable one.

They had never picked up a baseball until a year ago. Thursday, they will pitch in front of major league scouts in Tempe, Ariz., in hopes of landing a professional baseball contract.

"This is the most amazing thing I've been part of," says Tom House, University of Southern California pitching coach and former major league pitcher, who has spent the last six months training the duo.

Singh, a 6-2, 195-pound left-hander, throws 89-90 mph with a split-fingered changeup. He continually tinkers with different breaking balls. Patel, a 5-11, 185-pound right-hander, throws 91-92 mph with a circle changeup. Patel says he's the conservative one of the two, leaving the experimenting to Singh.

Entire article here (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2008-11-04-india-pitchers_N.htm)

medford
11-05-2008, 01:31 PM
[QUOTE=OnBaseMachine;1758454]Funny you should mention South Africa, TRF. The Pirates just signed an 18-year-old shortstop from South Africa a few days ago. His name is Mpho Ngoepe...below is an article on it:
QUOTE]

That kid needs to add an o b/w the M & the p in his first name. He'd instantly lead the mlb in jersey sales :)

camisadelgolf
11-05-2008, 01:47 PM
To digress a little, the two Italians the Reds signed last year had impressive debuts.


Luca Panerati
Year Age Tm Lg Lvl Aff W L W-L% G GS CG SHO GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WP BFP IBB BK ERA WHIP
+----+----+---+---+---+---+---+---+-----+----+---+---+---+---+---+------+----+----+----+---+----+----+---+---+-----+---+---+------+-----+
2008 18 RDS GCL Rk CIN 1 0 1.000 10 0 0 0 3 0 19 18 7 6 0 3 8 0 2 78 0 0 2.84 1.11

Matteo Pizziconi
Year Age Tm Lg Lvl Aff W L W-L% G GS CG SHO GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WP BFP IBB BK ERA WHIP
+----+----+---+---+---+---+---+---+-----+----+---+---+---+---+---+------+----+----+----+---+----+----+---+---+-----+---+---+------+-----+
2008 18 RDS GCL Rk CIN 3 0 1.000 15 0 0 0 5 0 25.2 18 3 2 0 11 15 4 1 102 0 0 0.70 1.13

TRF
11-05-2008, 03:23 PM
I don't think the monopoly approach is what the Reds should be concerned with so much as it is they should be concerned with establishing an early presence. It took the Reds a long time to catch up in Latin America...

kind of what I was thinking. Doug's right in that as soon as positive results are attained other teams will follow. The key is to get in early and make a positive impression. From South Africa to India there is a large untapped market. I'm thrilled the Reds are finally doing well in Latin America. I believe they still have an academy in Australia. Asia has not really been bountiful for the Reds thus far, but I think that is a cultural problem that I think M2 has pointed to in the past.

Players from South Africa and India might adjust a little better to a smller interior market where players from east Asia might prefer coastal teams.

OnBaseMachine
11-07-2008, 12:44 AM
I was thinking, I bet the Reds are getting to be quite popular down in the Dominican Republic these days. We have perhaps the best young Dominican pitcher in baseball (Volquez) and another young Dominican with extremely high upside in Johnny Cueto. Francisco Cordero is our closer. Edwin Encarnacion is a good young hitter. We have power hitting Juan Francisco in the minors. Plus the Reds just signed Juan Duran, a 16-year old viewed as one of the best young hitters to come from the Dominican, and they also signed others like Junior Arias and Anyelo Polanco. It's nice getting all this recognition - it should help with future signings.

redsfandan
11-08-2008, 07:57 AM
i'm thrilled that the reds have decided to not only invest more in latin america but to make it an ongoing thing. it can only help us have a top 10 farm system every year which will help the reds win more over the next 10 years.

i'm all for similar opportunities in other parts of the world as well. a business, whether it's the reds or whoever, needs to be open to opportunities that can help them wherever those opportunities may be. when mlb first looked to latin america decades ago didn't the first mlb teams to invest benefit more and for years and years?

the ground floor can help alot with an established reputation and important connections. competition will catch up eventually but it can sometimes cost more to do so. not always but that makes those connections that much more important. by the time the competition catches up, you've already created an established reputation which is an asset and can still be an advantage years later, even if only a slight one, if used correctly.

latin/intl players alone won't make the reds winners but it will definitely help.