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International Draft Newsbeat

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Scouting Children: Why MLB Has Teams Competing For 14-Year-Olds

BOCA CHICA, Dominican Republic—It’s an early January morning at the Yankees academy in the Dominican Republic. In a couple of hours, hundreds of scouts will be here to watch some of the top Dominican prospects in the 2014 signing class.

For now, on one field, the Yankees are holding a private workout with a pack of team personnel there to evaluate the players. On an adjacent field, with only a few people watching, a pair of infielders are out early taking grounders.

They both look young—too young to be July 2 players for this year. One wears a Nationals shirt and carries a Phillies equipment bag. He looks like he belongs in Little League. He has the mechanics of a child and the arm strength to match.

“He looks like he could be a guy,” said an agent, using the industry nomenclature for a legitimate prospect.

The player is 13 years old, international class of 2016. It’s a school day, but instead he’s here, taking infield on a professional diamond. If the agent doesn’t get him now, someone else will. By paying a family and his youth league coach a few thousand dollars today, a trainer can secure in the neighborhood of 20-40 percent of a player’s future signing bonus.

In Latin America, this sight is not unusual. The system now in place with Major League Baseball drives teams to aggressively scout 14-year-old boys, with trainers and agents looking for the next great 12-year-old. Want to sign one of the top 16-year-old players for this year? You’re probably too late. The aggressive nature of international scouting, combined with MLB’s bonus pool system, gives players incentive to reach agreements with teams earlier than ever. The 2014-15 international signing period begins on July 2, but for some teams, it’s already over, and has been for several months. The race is on to sign the top players for 2015.

“The market really has gone sideways for me,” an American League executive said. “It’s really against my scouting instincts to go get out there on 14- and 15-year-olds. Holy smokes. Who knows? Sometimes you have to do what the rest of the industry does.”

Very interesting article (not behind the usual BA paywall) on the evolving state of the international draft.

The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 10, 2014 at 11:01 PM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: international draft

 

 

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