Cardinals Tap Into New International Talent Streams
A decade or so after the Cardinals sought to expand their presence in Latin America markets like the Dominican Republic, the club has gone global, and in recent years scouted amateur talent in such passport-ready places as London and Australia and signed players from Italy and Hungary.
“We went around the world and back,” Cardinals international scouting director Luis Morales said.
One place they prioritized for talent on the rise was the Bahamas, which they view as a thriving outpost of prospects.
Bahamian shortstop Adari Grant signed with the Cardinals and will head to the Cardinals' Dominican campus when pandemic protocols permit. St. Louis dispatched scouts several times to the Bahamas to see Grant in person and gather data for future use about the level of competition.
It helped that they also saw Grant in U.S.-based showcases, including one in Fort Myers, Fla.
“We feel that he is a very athletic fielder, and that he’s coming from a market that has started producing the last couple of years,” Morales said. “This was a specific effort we made to identify that area, and with Adari we see a player with the defensive ability to play up the middle—stay at shortstop, second base or handle center field.”
Grant’s signing class is chocked with shortstops and center fielders. The Cardinals sought players with athleticism for the demands of those positions and options should they migrate to other positions.
Ten of the 14 players the Cardinals signed in the first wave were either shortstops or center fielders, with one notable exception.
Panamanian catcher Leonardo Bernal is a 6-foot-1 switch-hitter who impressed the Cardinals with his feel for the position and presence directing his team during the Little League World Series and also later in an under-15 international tournament.
Bernal was a year younger than his teammates.
“He’s playing in front of 5,000, playing for his country, and playing with confidence,” Morales said. “We feel he’s one of the top catchers on the market and will stay there.”
— Among the Cardinals’ first international signings was a 6-foot-4 former basketball player who towered over his peers at the team’s Dominican academy. Righthander Samuel Fabian, new to baseball, is described as “raw” but has a 93-94 mph fastball as a head start.
— The Cardinals’ acquisition of Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado had a ripple effect in the farm system. Included in the deal was the organization's top-ranked middle infield prospect Mateo Gil. Their overall No. 1 prospect, Nolan Gorman, a third baseman, will see time in the outfield and joked on social media that he needed a tutor for second base.