Which Teams Have Signed The Most International Prospects?
Posted Mar. 1, 2010 11:06 am by Ben Badler
Filed under: International
A team's international scouting efforts can take years to make a difference at the major league level.
Best case scenario, a team signs a 16-year-old from Latin America and he makes his big league debut as a 20-year-old four years later, a la Miguel Cabrera. In the case of less prodigious talent, it can take five to eight years (sometimes longer) between the time an international prospect signs and the point when he develops into a useful component of a major league club.
So while it might take another decade to figure out whether Twins shortstop Miguel Sano or Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez was the better player available on the 2009 international free agent market—or which team had the better overall international signing class—we can take a peek into the future to see which teams have been the most active procuring overseas talent.
One way to do so is to see which teams have signed the most international prospects in the 2010 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
This breakdown is not an analysis of which teams have done the best job in international scouting or have been the most efficient with their international spending. Teams that don't draft well might have more Latin American prospects in their top 30 by default (and vice versa), we're looking only at prospects and not giving credit to young big leaguers like Elvis Andrus or Pablo Sandoval, and we're just looking at raw numbers, not necessarily the quality of the prospects. But, generally speaking, the list does have some correlation with how active a team has been in the international market over the past five or six years.
The numbers below won't exactly align with the source of top 30 talent box in each chapter of the Prospect Handbook, for a couple of reasons. If a player appears in the Prospect Handbook, we're giving the team that originally signed him the credit regardless of that player's current organization; the Phillies get credit for Carlos Carrasco, the Dodgers get credit for Carlos Santana, etc. We're also including Cuban lefthanders Aroldis Chapman (Reds) and Noel Arguelles (Royals), whose scouting reports appear in the appendix of the Prospect Handbook but signed too late to rank in their respective organizations top 30s.
TEAM TOP 30 NOTABLE PROSPECTS
Yankees 12 Jesus Montero, Arodys Vizcaino, Jose Tabata
Rockies 11 Jhoulys Chacin, Wilin Rosario, Hector Gomez
Mets 10 Jenrry Mejia, Fernando Martinez, Wilmer Flores
Phillies 10 Carlos Carrasco, Sebastian Valle, Antonio Bastardo
Braves 9 Neftali Feliz, Julio Teheran, Christian Bethancourt
Cubs 9 Starlin Castro, Hak-Ju Lee, Dae-Eun Rhee
Mariners 9 Alex Liddi, Carlos Triunfel, Michael Pineda
Rangers 9 Martin Perez, Jurickson Profar, Wilmer Font
Red Sox 9 Junichi Tazawa, Jose Iglesias, Stolmy Pimentel
Twins 9 Wilson Ramos, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler
Indians 8 Hector Rondon, Kelvin de la Cruz, Carlos Rivero
Reds 8 Aroldis Chapman, Yorman Rodriguez, Juan Francisco
Tigers 8 Gorkys Hernandez, Gustavo Nunez, Wilkin Ramirez
Giants 7 Ehire Adrianza, Francisco Peguero, Rafael Rodriguez
Astros 6 Sammy Gervacio, Chia-Jen Lo, Fernando Abad
Athletics 6 Pedro Figueroa, Michael Ynoa, Henry Rodriguez
Blue Jays 6 Henderson Alvarez, Carlos Perez, Moises Sierra
Royals 6 Noel Arguelles, Carlos Rosa, Cheslor Cuthbert
Padres 6 Simon Castro, Edinson Rincon, Adys Portillo
White Sox 6 Dayan Viciedo, Clevelan Santeliz, F. de los Santos
Angels 5 Fabio Martinez, Alex Torres, Jean Segura
Cardinals 5 Eduardo Sanchez, Francisco Samuel, Richard Castillo
D-Backs 5 Rossmel Perez, Enrique Burgos, Leyson Septimo
Dodgers 5 Carlos Santana, Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez
Nationals 4 Eury Perez, Juan Jaime, Roger Berardina
Rays 4 Alex Colome, Wilking Rodriguez, Albert Suarez
Brewers 3 Alcides Escobar, Wily Peralta, Amaury Rivas
Orioles 3 Luis Lebron, Pedro Florimon, Garabez Rosa
Marlins 2 Jhan Martinez, Marcell Ozuna
Pirates 2 Starling Marte, Ramon Aguero
While the Yankees have considerable financial muscle in the international market, they have also leveraged it well in Latin America under the direction of vice president Mark Newman. Two of their high-profile signings, Jose Tabata and Arodys Vizcaino, have already netted them Javier Vazquez, Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte, while Jesus Montero will become arguably the top prospect in baseball (from a purely offensive standpoint) once Jason Heyward gets 130 big league at-bats.
Perhaps most impressive are the Rockies and Phillies, neither of whom have ever paid a bonus in excess of $1 million. The Rockies under international scouting director Rolando Fernandez have produced a steady pipeline of international talent, including big leaguers Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales, without spending exorbitantly. Three of their top five prospects are Latin American, including Jhoulys Chacin, who should be the next Latin American arm in line to make an impact in Colorado.
The Phillies, headed by international scouting director Sal Agostinelli, have also found plenty of talent without having to spend top-of-the-market dollars. The Phillies signed a pair of big leaguers in Carrasco and Antonio Bastardo, while also bringing aboard cost-effective players with upside like Mexican catcher Sebastian Valle for $30,000 and Dominican outfielder Domingo Santana, who has comparable tools to Yankees outfielder Kelvin de Leon but signed for one third of the cost.
Edward Salcedo became the Braves' first-ever seven-figure signing from Latin America, but the Braves have consistently found top talent in the region. The Braves have scouted well in Latin America outside of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela under international scouting director Johnny Almaraz to sign top talents like Panamanian catcher Christian Bethancourt and Colombian righthander Julio Teheran, while leveraging Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus and Max Ramirez to bring aboard Mark Teixeira and Bob Wickman.
The Mets have had success in the international market after spending heavily to sign Fernando Martinez and Wilmer Flores, but their best find might be Jenrry Mejia, who signed for $16,500. The Mets have been a major player in Latin America for years under Sandy Johnson, Ismael Cruz and Ramon Pena (who joined the Indians in November), even while losing some of their top talent evaluators (Eddy Toledo, Rays, and Juan Mercado, Cardinals) to other organizations, as the Mets were able to flip Carlos Gomez and Deolis Guerra to Minnesota to add Johan Santana before the 2008 season.
It can take several years for a team's international efforts to provide tangible results, even at the minor league level. For some of the teams at the bottom of the rankings, things are beginning to turn around.
Pirates international scouting director Rene Gayo signed Jhonny Peralta, Fausto Carmona, Willy Taveras and Rafael Perez for a combined $105,000 when he was with the Indians, and since Neal Huntington took over as general manager at the end of the 2007 season, the Pirates have stepped up their international spending and opened a new academy in the Dominican Republic. The Pirates should have one of the more exciting groups of players coming over this year from the Venezuelan Summer League, including speedy shortstop Jorge Bishop and left fielder Exicardo Cayonez, an advanced hitter for his age.
The Rays should also bring a promising Venezuelan contingent to the U.S. this year led by shortstop Hector Guevara and catcher Omar Narvaez, while the club also increased its international spending in 2009 by signing a pair of high-profile Venezuelans in third baseman Cesar Perez and shortstop Juniel Querecuto. The Brewers also increased their Latin American efforts this year by spending for Dominican right fielder Jose Pena and Dominican shortstop Santo Aybar, both of whom have flashed impressive raw power.