Monday, July 25, 2011

International Stuff

Is it worth spending money in Latin America? 

Simple answer is: Yes.  Differs from my previous positon on this subject you say?  Well, somewhat.  I think you have to play in both areas: the Rule 4 draft and the Latin area with the occasional (once every 3 years or so) rest-of-world top signing.  I mean, not $4 million signings like the A's did a couple of years ago but in that $1-1.5 million range, maybe one a year, plus 2 guys in that $500,000-800,000 range plus all your normal low cost signings.

Here is my thinking:  YES it is costly, more costly than if these guys were in the draft.  The reason is, obviously, competition.  It is an open market and there is no limit on what a prospect can command except for common sense by the teams writing the checks.  Still, though, consider this.  By my best googling only 19 teams have signed players during the current international signing period for bonuses of over $200,000.  That means that 11 teams have decided not to play this pricy game. 

This doesn't happen in the draft.  Thirty teams evenly divide the draft-eligible talent.  You get one out of every 30 players in rounds 4 through 50 and, if you are like the Indians this year with no extra picks, one out of 60 of the top 60 picks and somewhere a little north of one out of 30 for rounds 2 and 3.

So, yes, you can in theory pay less if you draft guys who sign for slot but you get less.   Consider this:

So far 37 players have signed for greater than $200,000 during the Latin American signing period that started July 2nd.   In the draft the 37th slot gets you 4 deep into the supplemental 1st round. 

Not to say that the 37 Latin signings are all the equivalent of their draft slot counterparts but you get the idea.

So, you get the pick of the Latin guys if you choose, like the Indians did, to play this summer as they signed 3 guys for over $200,000.  They got 3 of the top 37 guys PAID.  Now, as far as talent, who knows.  However, considering they got ONE of the top 67 players drafted in 2011, Latin America doesn't seem like a bad place to play.

Oh, BTW, Mr. Mirabelli, there appears to still be a number of top Latin prospects left to be signed as 9 of Baseball America's top 40 still appear to be available, although some have been linked to teams.

But why Latin America?   Aren't the odds of making it to the majors much longer for a 16-year old from a depressed foreign envinronment who is most likely not even comfortable in the US than for a seasoned college player or a HSer who has been to umpteen showcases and probably plays baseball and gets great coaching year-round?

Truly, I don't know the answer to that.  You can hypothesize that the Latin player is more driven and, while MAYBE not getting great coaching has focused on baseball a lot longer than the average American kid.  You can say he is more driven to succeed given the alternative of working hard for a year for what he makes in 2 months playing in the US, even in the low minors.   You can even say, if you believe such things, that baseball is in his blood; that is, that for some reason he is genetically more pre-disposed to be successful in baseball than the average American kid.  While this last point smells a lot like ethnic profiling to me and so I recoil from it, there are people who do believe it.

Are any or all of these true?  Who knows. 

But what I do know is this:  If you don't play you don't gain.

Let's take a look at Baseball America's mid-season top 50 prospects.  Here are the rankings, names, positions, teams, signing bonuses and year signed for each of the 8 guys who appeared in the top 25 of those rankings:

4. Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves, $850,000 in 2007
6. Martin Perez, LHP, Rangers, $580,000 in 2007
8. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees, $1.65 million in 2006
12. Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers, $1.55 million in 2009
13. Manny Banuelos, LHP, Yankees, $800,000 in 2008
16. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Braves, $800,000 in 2007
18. Carlos Martinez, RHP, Cardinals, $1.5 million in 2010
25. Leonys Martin, OF, Rangers, $15.5 million in 2009

So, if you pay, you get good prospects.  Hmmm!

Now, let's take this one step further.  Let's look at the top international bonuses of all-time (not counting Cubans and rest-of-world guys) through 2009 and see how those guys have fared.

Michael Ynoa, 2008, Oakland, $4.25 million
Miguel Sano, 2009, Twins, $3.15 million
Gary Sanchez, 2009, Yankees, $3 million
Rafael Rodriguez, 2008, Giants, $2.55 million
Yorman Rodriguez, 2008, Reds, $2.5 million
Wily Mo Pena, 1999, Yankees, $2.44 million
Joel Guzman, 2001, Dodgers, $2.25 million
Angel Villalona, 2006, Giants, $2.1 million
Juan Duran, 2008, Reds, $2 million
Adys Portillo, 2008,  Padres, $2 millin
Jose Vincio, 2009, Red Sox, $1.95 million
Miguel Cabrera, 1999, Marlins, $1.8 million
Jesus Montero, 2006, Yankees, $1.65 million
Jackson Melian, 1996, Yankees, $1.6 million
Jurickson Profar, 2009, Rangers, $1.55 million
Ricardo Aramboles, 1998, Yankees, $1.52 million
Luis Sardinas, 2009, Rangers, $1.5 million
Michael Almanzar, 2007, Red Sox, $1.5 million
Esmailyn Gonzalex, 2006, Nationals, $1.4 million
Fernando Martinez, 2005, Mets, $1.4 million
Willy Aybar, 2000, Dodgers, $1.4 million
Carlos Truifenl, 2006, Mariners, $1.3 million
Luis Domoromo, 2008, Padres, $1.25 million
Juan Urbina, 2009, Mets, $1.25 million
Chelser Cuthbert, 2009, Royals, $1.1 million
Julio Morban, 2008, Mariners, $1.1 million
Kelvin De Leon, 2007, Yankees, $1.1 million
Alvaro Aristy, 2008, Padres, $1 million
Jharmidy De Jesus, 2007, Mariners, $1 million

There are a lot of good prospects there, some costing no more than what whe paid for Sean Smith and Nick Pesco, if you remember the two of them.    Some clunkers but, if you throw out the Yankees and a few picks that didn't work out, it seems like a lot of the high priced Latin guys DO work out. 

Is this a greater % than the high-priced US guys?  Well, that is the topic of a whole other analysis that I will get back to later.  One the surface, though, it seems the answer might be yes.

So, while I talked the talk in the past of not wanting to overspend on Latin prospects I am walking the walk of seeing how spending more profusely in this area may be rediscovering the undiscovered country, so to speak.

BTW, here is an up-to-date look at the Latin guys who have signed this signing period.  The guys without a team (at the bottom of the list) have not signed yet.  Mr. Mirabelli, are you listening?  Please see the unsigned guys in yellow for a shopping list.

Ranking, Name, Position, CountryTeamBonus
NR Iosif Bernal, OF, PanamaAtlanta$230,000
16. Manuel Marcos, OF, Dominican RepublicBoston$800,000
17. Raimel Flores, SS, Dominican RepublicBoston$900,000
NR Dioscar Romero, RHP, VenezuelaBoston$600,000
8. Marck Malave, C, VenezuelaChicago Cubs????
9. Luis Enrique Acosta, SS, Dominican RepublicChicago Cubs$1.1 million
30. Ricardo Marcano, 3B, VenezuelaChicago Cubs????
39. Jonathan Perez, RHP, VenezuelaCincinnati$825,000
14. Dorssys Paulino, SS, Dominican RepublicCleveland$1.1 million
29. Anthony Santander, OF, VenezuelaCleveland$385,000
NR Fancisco Miguel, OF, Dominican RepublicCleveland$200,000
27. Antonio Senzatela, RHP, VenezuelaColorado????
26. Adelin Santa, 3B, Dominican RepublicDetroit$750,000
13. Luis Reynoso, SS, Dominican RepublicHouston$700,000
40. Arturo Michelena, SS, VenezuelaHouston$220,000
NR Harold Arauz, RHP, PanamaHouston$300,000
1. Elier Hernandez, OF, Dominican Republic Kansas City$3.05 million
22. Miguel Gonzalez, RHP, Dominican RepublicMinnesota$650,000
24. Jose Garcia, C, VenezuelaNY Mets$800,000
20. Miguel Andujar, 3B, Dominican Republic  NY Yankees$750,000
4. Roberto Osuna, RHP, MexicoNY Yankees ??????
15. Harold Ramirez, OF, ColombiaPittsburgh$1.1 million
23. Elvis Escobar, OF, VenezuelaPittsburgh$570,000
7. Jose Ruiz, C, VenezuelaSan Diego$1.1 million
11. Helsin Martinez, OF, Dominican RepublicSeattle$2 million
3. Victor Sanchez, RHP, VenezuelaSeattle$2 million plus
35. Jose Godoy, C, VenezuelaSt. Louis$200,000
NR Dewin Perez, :LHP, ColombiaSt. Louis$450,000
36. Eric Otanez, C, Dominican RepublicTampa Bay????
2. Ronald Guzman, OF, Dominican RepublicTexas$3.5 million
10. Nomar Mazara, OF, Dominican RepublicTexas$5.0 million
19. Yohander Mendez, LHP, VenezueaTexas$1.5 million
NR Eduard Pinto OF, VenezuelaTexas$300,000
5. Wilmer Becerra, SS/OF, VenezuelaToronto????
6. Dawel Lugo, SS, Dominican RepublicToronto$1.3 million
21. Jesus Gonzalez, OF, VenezuelaToronto????
33. Manuel Cordova, RHP, VenezuelaToronto?????
12. Adalberto Mondesi, SS, Dominican Republic   
18. Franmil Reyes, OF, Dominican Republic  
25. Carlos Tocci, OF, Venezuela  
28. Mauricio Silva, RHP, Venezuela  
31. Manuel Gonzalez, RHP, Dominican Republic  
32. Gialy Arias, RHP, Dominican Republic  
34. Sanber Pimentel, OF/1B, Dominican Republic  
37. Yairo Munoz, SS, Dominican Republic   
38. Soid Marquez, RHP, Venezuela  

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