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Thread: Reds scout abroad to balance field

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    Member OnBaseMachine's Avatar
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    Reds scout abroad to balance field

    Reds scout abroad to balance field
    Chapman signing part of increased effort in Latin America
    By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

    01/13/10 11:50 AM EST

    CINCINNATI -- To the casual fan, names like Aroldis Chapman, Humberto Valor, Juan Duran and Yorman Rodriguez might sound like international men of mystery.

    To the Reds scouting department that often scours foreign lands for players, they are viewed as a fantastic four of prized baseball talent and symbols of the improvements made in international scouting.

    As a small-market team with limited financial resources, the Reds have all but conceded any efforts to make major signings on the free-agent market. But in the past few years, the amateur and international signing-bonus budget has increased.

    And that has made the Reds as capable as the Yankees, Mets or Red Sox when competing for young talent in countries like Venezuela or the Dominican Republic.

    "We have very good international scouts," general manager Walt Jocketty said Monday after the Reds announced the Chapman signing. "We look at it as a way for us, in our market, to compete. We've had to step up on some of these guys. We can't go out and sign the expensive Major League free agents, so we're trying to build with the younger quality players through the Draft and international signings. That's the way we're going to have to do it."

    In February 2008, the Reds signed Duran as a 16-year-old and gave him a $2 million signing bonus. Duran, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound kid who hails from the Dominican Republic, was to be a top outfielder in the international signing period that year, but the Reds discovered a rule that made Duran eligible to sign earlier. He spent 2009 in the Gulf Coast League.

    Another top 16-year-old outfielder from that year, Rodriguez, of Venezuela, was signed in August and received a $2.5 million bonus. Rodriguez, who is 6-foot-3, was rated the sixth-best Reds 2009 prospect by Baseball America in November and rated as having the organization's best outfield arm. He started last season in the GCL and moved on to Billings in the Pioneer League.

    Valor, who was also 16 in July when he signed for a $690,000 bonus, was reportedly the best position player prospect in Venezuela.

    "Outside of the United States, the Dominican is the No. 1 producer of talent, followed by Venezuela," Reds senior director of scouting Chris Buckley said. "You have to scout these countries hard because there is so much talent. What happens if Cuba opens up?"

    The Reds aren't waiting for the Cuban embargo to be lifted. Last weekend, they successfully landed Chapman, a left-handed pitcher who defected last summer and became a free agent. The 21-year-old has a fastball in the upper 90s and has touched 100 mph on the radar gun.

    After a fierce bidding process against teams like the A's, Nationals, Red Sox, Angels and Marlins, the Reds came out on top by completing a $30.25 million deal over six years, with much of the money spread out over 10 years.

    It was a stunning move, but the bold signing emphasized the Reds' commitment to youth and using all available avenues to get talent.

    "I came from a program in Toronto where international scouting was big," Buckley said. "Two-fifths of our Reds rotation is from the Dominican Republic, and our closer is from the Dominican. Our catcher is from Venezuela. It's a lot like that with other teams in baseball."

    The Reds' relatively new player academy in the Dominican Republic helps the club be competitive in Latin America. Among the instructors is former star Mario Soto, a special assistant to the GM, who helps develop young pitchers. Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, who was signed in 2004, got his professional start at that academy in his home country.

    The Reds are also trying to establish footholds in the Pacific Rim. Other clubs have successfully acquired talent from Japan, Korea and Australia. Cincinnati isn't likely to spend the tens of millions of dollars required to get the veteran Japanese players who could be the next Ichiro Suzuki or Daisuke Matsuzaka. Expect them to pursue younger players who want to begin their professional careers in the United States.

    Buckley -- along with Bill Bavasi, vice president of scouting, player development and international operations, and Tony Arias, Latin American scouting director -- was planning to grab his passport again for another trip this week. The three were headed to the Dominican Republic and Venezuela to look for more talent.

    "We're still scouting those places very hard," Buckley said. "We're thrilled to have Aroldis, but we're on to the next project."


    http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/...=.jsp&c_id=cin

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    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    Re: Reds scout abroad to balance field

    One thing that the article doesn't state outright (likely due to the embargo making it a Federal crime) but sort of implies, is that the Reds have contacts or perhaps a shadow scouting operation in Cuba. If Chapman is a result of that operation, let's hope the club keeps it up and that they don't get in trouble.
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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Reds scout abroad to balance field

    Quote Originally Posted by Unassisted View Post
    One thing that the article doesn't state outright (likely due to the embargo making it a Federal crime) but sort of implies, is that the Reds have contacts or perhaps a shadow scouting operation in Cuba. If Chapman is a result of that operation, let's hope the club keeps it up and that they don't get in trouble.
    Right now, the embargo only precludes U.S. Citizens from traveling to Cuba, although restrictions were lifted last year to allow those with family there to travel. But Reds employees who are citizens of other countries would not be prohibited from travel to Cuba. Even U.S. citizens who travel there aren't generally threatened with jail time, but rather fines, as I understand it. Again, though, non-U.S. citizens are free to scout around there. Interesting that I'm listening to "The Story" on WVXU and he's interviewing a young guy from Pittsburgh whose parents fled Cuba following the revolution who visited Cuba over his parents' objections.
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    Re: Reds scout abroad to balance field

    Moneyball is a metaphor for finding talent in unusual places and exploiting unexploited areas of the game to gain an advantage. In the 50's the Senators and the Reds were the most active teams in Latin America.

    It's nice that Reds are trying to exploit something other than their fans.

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    My clutch is broken RichRed's Avatar
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    Re: Reds scout abroad to balance field

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    Moneyball is a metaphor for finding talent in unusual places and exploiting unexploited areas of the game to gain an advantage. In the 50's the Senators and the Reds were the most active teams in Latin America.

    It's nice that Reds are trying to exploit something other than their fans.
    I hinted at Latin America being the Reds' Moneyball move in the Chapman thread. It's good to know they're actively searching for a competitive advantage in this way, rather than just sitting on their hands and crying "Unfair system!"
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    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: Reds scout abroad to balance field

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    Moneyball is a metaphor for finding talent in unusual places and exploiting unexploited areas of the game to gain an advantage. In the 50's the Senators and the Reds were the most active teams in Latin America.

    It's nice that Reds are trying to exploit something other than their fans.
    Interesting thought. The issues that I see with is the talent is rather expensive, somewhat unknown, and developmentally long. The Reds have been very active and successful in latin players but they have yet to reap any rewards of this new found strategy. Rodriguez may work his way into Sarasota next season and Chapman ending in Louisville seems like a logical target.

    It is nice seeing the effort and money poured into an area the Reds previously were cheap in. But the key is to maximize that talent when it becomes MLB ready.

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    Red's fan mbgrayson's Avatar
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    Re: Reds scout abroad to balance field

    I agree that signing Aroldis Chapman, Humberto Valor, Juan Duran and Yorman Rodriguez might turn out to be Moneyball-like moves. I sure hope so....

    It is interesting that Mr. Moneyball himself, Billy Beane and the A's, finished 2nd in the Chapman sweepstakes....
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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Reds scout abroad to balance field

    After reading so many articles that describe this as an absolute, out of left field shock, I'm glad to see an article place the signing in proper context. The Reds have a tradition of being a major player in signing Latin American talent and have really established this as perhaps one of their only comparative advantages.
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    Re: Reds scout abroad to balance field

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    Interesting thought. The issues that I see with is the talent is rather expensive, somewhat unknown, and developmentally long. The Reds have been very active and successful in latin players but they have yet to reap any rewards of this new found strategy. Rodriguez may work his way into Sarasota next season and Chapman ending in Louisville seems like a logical target.

    It is nice seeing the effort and money poured into an area the Reds previously were cheap in. But the key is to maximize that talent when it becomes MLB ready.
    I would say its a revitalization of the Reds' Latin efforts. In general, this is just another pipeline of young talent, which is all rather expensive, somewhat unknown, and developmentally long. If I've learned anything in playing closer attention to the drafts and minors, no matter the source, a lot of R&D is poured out by MLB franchises, and disproportionately in the small budget franchises, and the return is a few productive major leaguers. And even though more is known about the American kids, it is still extremely difficult to pick the right one's consistently.
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    Re: Reds scout abroad to balance field

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    Moneyball is a metaphor for finding talent in unusual places and exploiting unexploited areas of the game to gain an advantage. In the 50's the Senators and the Reds were the most active teams in Latin America.
    It's like what I tell my wife when she wants to redecorate the house. If we wait long enough, our old stuff will come back into fashion. Everything old is new again.

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    Member Sea Ray's Avatar
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    Re: Reds scout abroad to balance field

    No question a great of the Reds success in the 70s came from Latin American players like Concepcion, Geronimo, Perez, Borbon, Sarmiento, Soto and others. They seemed to have more Latin American players than other teams did


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