For the fourth year in a row, we are providing Baseball America readers with scouting reports on every international amateur signing of at least $100,000 from the previous calendar year, along with additional reports on more under-the-radar prospects to watch.
While some of the top names start to pop up even earlier, the process generally kicks off at the beginning of 2013, when the heavy lifting starts in the process of seeing players and talking to scouts all over the world about the top players leading up to July 2. That information leads to our Top 30 prospects list for July 2 and the accompanying reports and other preview stories. July 2 is the biggest date of the year on the international calendar, but players are signed year-round.
Once we put the finishing touches on the Prospect Handbook and 2013 closes out, the information gathering process for the International Reviews kicks into full gear. We speak with all 30 teams about their top international signings, make additional calls to crosscheck information on signings who may have slipped through the cracks during the year and gather as much new information on players as possible.
When players are signed at 16, reports from July 2 often have to be revised eight months later, even though those players haven’t played an official game yet. Players gain weight, grow taller and, in turn, their tools and skill sets can change. Even if there are no rapid changes for some players, recapping the 2013 international signings early in 2014 allows us to bring you what we believe is the best information possible on 2013 international signings before the 2014 season begins.
Some of the elite signings go to instructional league in the United States after signing, while every team holds a separate Dominican instructs and other Dominican winter programs that allow them to continue to develop and evaluate their own talent. There are players participating in the Tricky League (the unofficial league organized by a handful of clubs), the Parallel League in Venezuela (the minors of the Venezuelan League) and other opportunities for teams to see their newest signings on a daily basis, something the July 2 tryout schedule doesn’t provide.
Our goal is to synthesize all of the information we have collected throughout the process to paint an accurate picture of the players’ present tools and skills, with a look toward what they might develop into in the future. Projecting 16-year-old players is one of the most challenging jobs in baseball, but our reports should be able to provide on-point snapshots of the players’ present abilities, presenting what we believe to be the industry consensus on the players and incorporating what the teams think of their own signings.
At the same time, these reports will have some differences than a scouting report you would read in the Prospect Handbook or one of our draft reports. Many of these players are still 16, and while the players who signed for the biggest bonuses will get picked apart in more detail, it’s imperative to remember above all that, even if age fraud remains rampant, many of these players are still kids.
Over the next week, we will release scouting reports on more than 200 international signings from 2013. Some of those players signed in the first half of the year during the 2012-13 signing period, but the bulk of the reports on the top signings are from the current 2013-14 period that began on July 2. Then we will wrap up with the Top 20 prospects from the Dominican Summer League and the Venezuelan Summer League, a process that has helped us identify players such as Xander Bogaerts and Jorge Bonifacio, among others, before they broke out in the United States.
Looking back at the international marketplace five years ago, it’s incredible to think how much has changed for scouts, players and trainers in such a short time. Our coverage of the international market has evolved in that time as well, with more reports and more detailed information than ever before.
|2013 INTERNATIONAL REVIEWS|
|AL EAST||AL CENTRAL||AL WEST||NL EAST||NL CENTRAL||NL WEST||DSL/VSL|
|Baltimore ($)||Chi. White Sox ($)||Houston ($)||Atlanta ($)||Chi. Cubs||Arizona||DSL/VSL|
|Boston||Cleveland ($)||L.A. Angels ($)||Miami ($)||Cincinnati||Colorado|
|N.Y. Yankees ($)||Detroit ($)||Oakland ($)||N.Y. Mets||Milwaukee||L.A. Dodgers|
|Tampa Bay ($)||Kansas City ($)||Seattle ($)||Philadelphia ($)||Pittsburgh||San Diego|
|Toronto ($)||Minnesota ($)||Texas ($)||Washington ($)||St. Louis||San Francisco|