Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dodgers' rededication to international scouting something to be excited about

The Dodgers' ownership group promised to refocus and make international scouting a big part of its new regime -- and it has yet to disappoint.

The Dodgers made a huge splash in July by signing Yasiel Puig to a record-breaking contract. They drafted Cuban left-handers Onelki Garcia (third round) and Alfredo Unzue (32nd round). Garcia has a lot of potential. They also nabbed a handful of players during the new international signing period -- most notably 16-year-old Mexican left-hander Julio Urias.

They've been linked to Japanese right-hander Shohei Otani, whose situation won't likely be resolved until the spring. And they just landed the rights to sign Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu after a $25.7 million posting fee this past weekend.

It's obvious the Dodgers are ramping up the scouting and player acquisition in this department -- and that couldn't be better.

Now that they seemingly have more money than God, it just makes things easier.

Oh, and all this was done before bolstering their international scouting staff, which happened on Monday.
"Two weeks ago the Dodgers hired Bob Engle as vice president of international scouting and Monday they brought on six of his Mariners staff -- Pedro Avila, Gene Grimaldi, Patrick Guerrero, Pat Kelly, Jamey Storvick and Mike Tosar."
For a self-proclaimed prospector, this is extremely exciting news. The Dodgers' farm system, since the likes of Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley all graduated, hasn't been anywhere near that good. They've had a bottom-third farm system for the last few years (save one year) and with the recent additions, they're pushing Top-20 territory. That's really saying something, as they've added some quality international prospects.

My hope is the Dodgers will reassert themselves in the Dominican Republic. Roughly 11 percent of players in Major League Baseball are from the Dominican. That doesn't even include minor-leaguers who have yet to debut in the majors. Venezuela would be another great place to scout heavy, as about 7.7 percent of MLBers hail from the country, including the game's best hitter (Miguel Cabrera) and one of its best right-handed pitchers (Felix Hernandez).

The Dodgers have also been trailblazers in East Asia (Japan, Korea, Taiwan), and making international scouting a priority rather than an afterthought could not mean better things for the Dodgers -- now and in the future.

Image credit: CIA World Factbook
Graphic by: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

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