Oct. 24, 2016
MLB International Showcase In Latin America, May Be Void Of Prospect Participants
The MLB International Showcase, involving the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, has become quite the commodity of players from foreign countries for teams in the United States. We have enjoyed many of those players as part of our MLB teams. St. Louis Cardinals starter, Carlos Martinez, among a larger number of current international players on current rosters from the Dominican Republic: Pedro Alverez, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion, Francisco Liriano, Jr Lake, Starling Marte, former Cardinals Albert Pujols; and, Edinson Volquez. From Venezuela: Jose Altuve, Gregor Blanco, Miguel Carbrera, Alcides Escobar, Jr Guerra, Salvador Perez; and, Luis Valbuena. The lists from both countries is just about equal in the many numbers brought to the States to play professional baseball. (Lists compiled, Wikipedia.com)
Martinez, as is standard with international players as an amateur free agent, was signed by the Boston Red Sox in February, 2009, at the age of 19. His contract was voided by the Red Sox a month later. He was signed by the Cardinals as a free agent in April 2010. He made his debut on May 3, 2013 out the bullpen, exceeded his rookie status in 2014 and has made his way to the Cardinals rotation.
The MLB International Showcase in the Dominican is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday this coming week. However, reportedly, there may be a boycott of all MLB events planned by, not only the Dominican; but, also, of the Venezuelans Showcase to be held November 16-17. Their event was moved to Panama from the latter, due to unrest and risks to those who would be attending, in the northern-most South American country.
As reported by Brad Badler, Baseball America: In response to MLB’s reported international draft proposal that caught many in the industry off guard, trainers in Latin America are considering pulling their players out of the MLB’s upcoming Dominican and Venezuelan showcases. Trainers have taken a more strident tone toward MLB’s Dominican national showcase, which is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. “No one will take their players to the event next week,” said one prominent Dominican trainer. “There is a total boycott of all MLB events.”
Also, in depth reporting by Badler: "Before International Draft, Reform Needed" and "Venezuela Showcase Moved to Panama". The second gives one an overview of what conditions these kids have to deal with currently to change their future course in life. If you care to delve deeper into internationals draft information, you will quickly read, corruption is not limited to the "Buscones".
Per Ron Walschleger and Jacob Elkram, SB*Nation: "With the current MLB collective bargaining agreement (CBA) set to end shortly after the 2016 postseason, Major League Baseball owners are pushing for an international draft in the next CBA to replace the current international signing period. The current draft proposal Is a 10-round draft held over two days, and would start in March of 2018. The plan is for there to be a minimum age of 18 in place by the year 2021."
"The biggest reason reason for this proposal cited by MLB owners is the corruption in the process of acquiring foreign talent. Known as buscones, these "street agents" often take advantage of a player when he is young by providing food, lodging, and other accommodations in order to receive a piece of the player's signing bonus when they are eventually signed."
"Welcome to the Dominican Republic: Baseball Mecca" (Chicago Tribune) gives oversight in 2015 international draft.
A lot of money has gone into developing international trades and seeing up and coming prospects between the MLB and foreign entities as I understand after reading all, with very little cost to the stateside MLB team owners. Surprising, not really. However, I'm sure more will be reported come Wednesday, October 26, as to the outcome of this year's international showcase. Will the fields of the Dominican Republic be void of prospective players? Or, in four short days, all will have been worked out? If the trainers are serious, I presume it will be the former mentioned.