International Presence

For those with Baseball America subscriptions, I strongly recommend reading this article, “Twins Scan The Globe For Prospects.”

For those without accounts, here is the statement that sums everything up

While addressing their Dominican weakness, the Twins also haven’t abandoned Venezuela or their strong presence in Europe or Australia.

I am longing for the day we will read a comparable article concerning the Nationals.

  1. #1 by Positively Half St. - January 7th, 2010 at 12:58

    I very much agree, but would trade it for now for a few headlines on “Nationals sign top Dominican prospect.”

  2. #2 by chris - January 7th, 2010 at 13:02

    you spelled “cuban” wrong!

  3. #3 by Berndaddy - January 7th, 2010 at 13:33

    1/2 St —> ?Que dice?

    Rizzo will figure it out if anyone can he will. I believe…

  4. #4 by Paul - January 7th, 2010 at 15:34

    Since when is Europe mentioned as a scouting hotbed????

  5. #5 by Brian Oliver - January 7th, 2010 at 15:40

    Paul – It’s not … yet. But at one point neither was Australia or Korea.

    If you get “boots on the ground” in new places, you can become the standard bearer in that region. I’d love for the Nationals to open academies in South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Why not bring baseball and a commitment of money/resources to areas in hopes of establishing the Nationals brand.

  6. #6 by Mark - January 7th, 2010 at 17:36

    I bet FO’s are trying to determine if investing time and money in new corners of the globe makes economic sense. If the Twins win something big, and their roster looks like a United Nations roll call sheet, I bet more teams will start to do the same. Great athletes can come from anywhere, but does it make economic sense to find that needle in the global heystack?

  7. #7 by DMCj - January 7th, 2010 at 18:20

    @Mark – I think Brian’s point (with which I agree) is that the key to being a value investor is to beat the stampede … I don’t think we’re talking massive amounts of money anyway – the trick is to get there first (or close to it). My (modest!) retirement portfolio has a small but aggressive international fund – high risk, high reward … ballclubs should have the same. A team like the Nats that’s just at the beginning of the success cycle is likely going to get more long-term value out of building an international presence than they are from signing two more middle relievers who will leave or flame out within two seasons.

    If it doesn’t work, you resign Livo :)

  8. #8 by Brian Oliver - January 7th, 2010 at 18:27

    DMCj captured my thinking. I’m not suggesting the Nationals invest tens of millions of dollars per year in academies.

    Stan Kasten stated that one of the pillars of the Nationals was going to be establishing an international presence by the team in the Nation’s Capital. To date, all we’ve seen is a reportedly corrupt presence in the Dominican Republic. They have taken the first necessary step to establish a legitimate presence there, but they cannot stop there. They need to find that next pipeline.

  9. #9 by Mark - January 7th, 2010 at 19:12

    I guess this is where my ignorance of international scouting comes in to play. I’m not sure what you need to set up shop in an area of interest – a lead scout and two assitant scouts? A home office? Probably local contacts composed of coaches, former players. And not every country would have a handler like they do in the DR. This is very specialized stuff – knowledge of a speciifc country, language skills, being a qualified baseball scout, can deal with coaches and players, can network effectively and make a deal. And every team would probably do it a little differently.

  10. #10 by Brian Oliver - January 7th, 2010 at 19:37

    Each country/area has different customs or ways of approaching things. I know, for example, that the Nationals ‘presence’ in Japan consisted of a guy traveling to Japan a few times a year. From what I have read, teams that are successful in Japan have a constant presence there, not just an occasional one. They have folks present regularly building relationships with the Japanese, fostering good will and giving the team a leg up.

    Right now, the names that most non-Latin American foreign countries are aware of are the Yankees, Dodgers, Mariners, & Red Sox with other teams in niches (a la the Twins).

    The Nationals have the resources and they have the advantage of being in Washington DC. The fact that they have yet to exploit it is a continued lost opportunity.

    I’ve asked the international question many times and receive the same answer that they are ‘doing things’ but they don’t want to discuss it since that would let their competitors know. That’s a great canned answer but thus far we have seen very little return on that work. They have the finances to do it, they say they want to do it, but I still have not seen any results

  11. #11 by Nate - January 7th, 2010 at 19:43

    To sum up, the Nats should retain Mark Sanford and dispatch him to plow the fertile (baseball) fields of Argentina. If nothing else we’ll uncover the finest prospects the Appalachian Trail has to offer.

  12. #12 by markfd - January 8th, 2010 at 16:04

    Brian – OT question, but will the Nats be having an accelerated minor league camp again in 2010 or will the top prospects get Spring Training invites to work out with the big league club?

  13. #13 by Mezza - January 10th, 2010 at 22:12

    As an Australian (who played a bit of ball) and follow the Nats – im amazed that the Nats dont spend more time here trying to recruit players (not that they’d tell u). There is plenty of talent (and is usually cost effective due to currency conversion). The main problem here is that players tend to follow mainstream Aussie sports (football, AFL, cricket, swimming, etc) which require scouting of other sports for talent with tools that might cross over to baseball. Australia isnt anything new to most MLB teams who have been scouting here for the best part of 30 years (during the 90s the National league here was rated AAA from memory and MLB teams affilliated with teams here like winter ball).

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