International scouting was an area where the Cincinnati Reds lagged many major league teams in the past, but it has been a major focus in recent years.
“For a long time,” said Nick Krall, General Manager of Reds, “we haven’t had as much success outside of the Cuban market as we should have.”
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It is a high risk and rewarding way to add talent to a company. Amateur international signers are eligible to sign contracts by the age of 16, so Boy Scouts project the equivalent of high school students.
The Reds have made some high profile signings with Cuban players – Aroldis Chapman, Raisel Iglesias, Jose Barrero and Vladimir Gutierrez – who are usually older when they leave the country and have experience in Cuba’s top professional league. Their success rate with native talent from other countries was much lower than most teams (28.3% of the players on the opening day list this year were born outside the United States) and this affected their farming system.
The club has six domestic international amateur signees in its 40-man squad: the pitchers Alexis Diaz, Gutierrez and Dauri Moreta as well as the position players Barrero, Aristides Aquino and Allan Cerda. Diaz and Cerda have yet to make their major league debuts.
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There have been positive signals in recent years from the international investments of the Reds. Infielder Elly De La Cruz, a switch hitter, signed for $ 65,000 from the Dominican Republic in 2018 and now the 19-year-old is a top 100 contender in the sport. “De La Cruz is a plus-plus runner with a plus-plus arm and plus-plus raw strength,” wrote Baseball America in its scouting report.
“It’s De La Cruz, but Daniel Vellojin is a catcher who played really well in Low-A,” said Krall. “We signed Ariel Almonte this year. It’s Malvin Valdez, who we also signed this year. It’s players that we have. It’s guys like Carlos Jorge that nobody knows about, but he played really well. Yerlin Confidant, (Arizona Complex League) Player of the Year who may have been a sign under the radar. “
An international amateur draft is to be implemented as part of the next baseball collective agreement. Teams, including the Reds, added international scouts to prepare for the probability.
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“It is possible to get to Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Australia or Europe,” said Krall. “It’s possible to get to all of these places and also have information and people on the ground to help you make the best design decisions. Whether that happens or not, I have no idea, it’s just that we now see the players for each class. “
The Reds are expected to sign Venezuelan shortstop Ricardo Cabrera when the next international signing period begins on January 15th. Cabrera is ranked the No. 3 international contestant in the upcoming engagement class by Baseball America.
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FanGraphs highlighted Venezuelan catcher Alfredo Duno as one of the top international prospects in the 2023 Recruitment Class, and he is expected to sign with the Reds in more than a year.
More Reds news and notes:
• The Reds signed right-handed Kyle Dowdy to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Dowdy, 28, posted an ERA of 4.80 over 60 innings with 63 strikeouts and 40 walks last season’s triple-A season.
Dowdy made 13 appearances with the Texas Rangers in 2019 as a rule 5 selection, but was brought back to his original team, the Cleveland Guardians, after having an ERA of 7.25 in 22 1/3 innings.
• Former Reds pitcher Brandon Finnegan signed a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox on Friday. Finnegan has spent the last seven seasons in the Reds organization but has not served in the majors since 2018.
• Alex Blandino, who was the club’s first choice in 2014, signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the San Francisco Giants, according to a report on the San Francisco Chronicle.
Blandino made the Reds’ opening day list last season. He had 14 hits in 70 at-bats (.200 batting average) with four doubles and zero homers in 43 games. He did not return to the majors after being hit with bad luck and breaking his right hand in June. He reached 0.102 in 18 games at Triple-A Louisville, mostly on a rehab stint, but returned to the injured list in September.
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• The Reds’ junior player Nick Lodolo is feeling better after being injured in the second half of his minor league season. Lodolo missed about a month in the middle of summer with a blister on his left index finger, his raised hand, and then he was immobilized in late August with a left shoulder strain.
“I got in touch with Nick about two weeks ago,” said Shawn Pender, director of Reds Farm, “just to check in, say hello, and how are you. He says, ‘Geez, I feel great. I think all this strength and stamina helped me and the free time. I feel really up to the task of coming back ready to travel, “so it was all positive.”