In my post about how to build a small market franchise I pointed out three major ways:
1. Through the draft
2. Through trading veterans for prospects
3. Prudently, but agressively sign Latin American prospects
The reason for this order is that the first one, the draft, is the most cost effective method of getting quality prospects. Trading veterans for prospects is close to a zero balance situation unless you are extremely lucky. The third one is the least cost effective method of obtaining young talent because it is a bidding war which probably means you are not getting what you pay for, which is especially important when you are investing from millions to hundreds of thousands on 16-year old fuzzy faced baseball players.
Nevertheless, I said that we should spend heavily on the draft using the blueprint of the 2010 draft BUT that we should also not neglect Latin America and sign at least one top prospect every year. While this barely will keep our head afloat compared to our biggest competitors, it at least keeps us in the game.
So far this international signing period, which started July 2nd, the Indians have definitely been in the game, signing four prospects, one for 1+ million:
1. Dorssys Paulino, SS from the Dominican Republic, $1.1 million (http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/2011/07/indians-sign-dorssys-paulino-for-1-1-million/ ), 14th ranked prospect by Baseball America (http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/2011/07/indians-sign-dorssys-paulino-for-1-1-million/)
2. Anthony Santandor, OF, Venezuela, $385,000 (29th ranked prospect by BA)
3. Francisco Miguel, OF, Dominican Republic, $200,000
4. Juan Marte, RHP, Dominican Republic, $175,000
Note that BA disclaims their list as not being the top talent but who they expect to get the top bonuses, even indicating that one team's $1.1 million prospect may only be another team's $90,000 bonus guy. Scary!
The Indians appear to be being a little more aggressive this year internationally which may make up for their less than aggressive approach in the draft after the first two rounds this year.
Stay tuned for more updates