Brewers Nab Top Dominican Talent

The Milwaukee Brewers aren’™t known for being a big player in the
international marketplace for players. The organization wants that to

In July, scouts in Latin America reported that righthander Rolando
Pascual was the best unsigned talent in the Dominican Republic.
Wednesday, the Brewers confirmed they had signed Pascual, a 6-foot-6,
195-pounder, to a contract.

One international scout with a different organization said the
Brewers gave Pascual a $710,000 signing bonus. While assistant general
manager Gord Ash and Fernando Arango, Milwaukee’™s Latin American
scouting supervisor, would neither confirm nor deny the bonus amount,
Arango said, “There’™s a big leaguer who signed for that amount, Felix
Hernandez,” Arango said. “So I hope that number is a good omen.”

The Brewers jumped into the Pascual bidding because he fits the
profile of the kind of prospect they are willing to spend significantly
to sign, Arango said. He has some present ability, with an average
present fastball (in the 87-93 mph range), and it projects to be an
above-average pitch. He has some physical maturity as well as
projection, and enough mental maturity to handle coming to the United
States to play in 2006. The Brewers don’™t have a Latin American
academy, so any Latin players they sign must be ready to come to the
U.S. immediately and be ready to play in Rookie ball.

“This kid has broad shoulders, long arms and big hands,” Arango said
from his Miami-area home. “He was 12 pounds when he was born’"I heard
the scream from his mother. He’™s got good size.

“Rolando’™s mechanics are pretty fluid. He has a real easy arm action
to go with his size. He has the ability to spin a breaking ball pretty
good. His biggest thing is going to be getting command of his breaking
ball. His changeup at times needs a lot of work and at times it’™s
pretty good. He has a high ceiling.”

Ash said the Brewers had to have several factors come together to
make the Pascual signing happen. The Brewers didn’™t have a second-round
pick this year (for signing free agent Damian Miller) and saw Pascual
as an opportunity to make up for that. They also like his ability,
obviously. But Ash acknowledged big-picture issues also came into play.

“We need to send a signal that our organization will be a player in
that marketplace,” Ash said. “We want players and agents to know our
club will do what it takes to sign talented players in Latin America.
We signed (righthander) Roque Mercedes last year for significant
dollars, but not for anything like Pascual.

“The previous administration signed (Class A middle infielders)
Hernan Iribarren and Alcides Escobar, but we have a slightly different
philosophy in that we’™re targeting a higher level of player, and we
have confidence Rolando will be that kind of player.”

Pascual, born in February 1989, has cleared the bureaucratic hurdles
(getting a visa, proving his age, etc.) and is expected to fly to Miami
this week. He’™ll then report to Arizona for instructional league.
Because the status of the lower minors has yet to be determined (Major
League Baseball’™s proposed changes have yet to be approved by owners),
Ash said he wasn’™t sure where Pascual would begin his pro career. He
said as the minors are currently constructed, Pascual would either
spend 2006 in the Rookie-level Arizona or Pioneer leagues.