M’s Hire Dominican Guy, Who Signs Another Dominican Guy

Jay Yencich · January 15, 2013 at 6:45 am · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

By my reckoning, we have entered the offseason period of the Doldrums. I, for one, have been driving my little car for quite some time and Tock is nowhere to be found. Just wait though: the mere fact that I’m coming out of hiding to post anything at all almost certainly promises some major move later in the day to push this down the page. Things are looking up!

One of the moves to occur recently with very little mention is that the Mariners brought in Eddy Toledo to lead their Dominican operations, taking over the job that formerly belonged to Patrick Guerrero. At the time, when Guerrero and Engle were both leaving, there was concern over who would be filling that fairly large void. While Engle we knew would be hard to replace due to his years of scouting experience and connections, what we understood of Guerrero was more speculative. He had been instrumental in a number of the Latin American signings, but as Marc and I were discussing recently, those signings hadn’t done a whole lot for us. To rattle off a short and incomplete list of guys given seven-figure bonuses who didn’t do much: Mario Martinez, Jharmidy de Jesus, Carlos Triunfel (may yet be a major leaguer), and more recent enigmas like Guillermo Pimentel, Phillips Castillo, and Alexy Palma (Jose Leal gets a bye for this year). The list of high-profile hitter signings that had followed through with what was expected of them might be limited to Julio Morban, health permitting. The last guy who exceeded expectations might’ve been Luis Valbuena or Juan Diaz, who both went to the Indians, who liked what we did on the international front. Assuming that hitters ought to be safer, something we were doing appeared to be systemically wrong, relative to our level of regional investment. This was probably the justification for giving Guerrero the ax, though none of us knew what qualifications his replacement might have or if there were better options available.

Scouts who are hired to fill such positions are often not as visible within an organizational hierarchy, making it difficult to know who is even on the market. Managers and general managers tend to draw from defined pools of applicants and the profile of their role means that we know ahead of time who is even interviewing. Fellows like Toledo and Guerrero are only names that nuts like me might recognize within their own organization. Now, from the article on the hiring, we know that Toledo isn’t exactly a slouch with regards to what he’s accomplished. He’s been in baseball for thirty+ years and among the players to his credit we have Jose Reyes, Nelson Cruz, Octavio Dotel, Guillermo Mota, Hector Carrasco, Carlos Gomez, Fernando Martinez, Elvin Ramirez, Alex Colome, Braulio Lara and assorted other major leaguers. Toledo had been with the Rays since 2006 and glancing over the Baseball America prospect list, I see that he’s responsible for two guys on their top 10, Colome and Enny Romero, both pitchers. He was also the one who signed Leslie Anderson after he defected from Cuba. Going after our Pacific Northwest players, Rays? Well, we’ll just steal your Dominican scout and sign players that are geographically closer to you! Take that!

Given that the Mariners are reputed high-rollers in the international world and the Rays aren’t really, one of the things that’s easy to talk about is how Toledo, provided with more resources, might be able to make a more visible impact on his new organization. That’s a seemingly reasonable estimation though, considering development delays stemming from age and relative experience, the net change in return will take us a bit longer to get a decent gauge on. That also doesn’t begin to address the new CBA changes, which could either drive players away from the sport or lead to greater parity in the signings. In the short term, not to be presumptuous, it at least looks like we have an upgrade rather than a mere replacement.

Toledo and his superior, new international director Tim Kissner, got to work pretty quickly, signing Dominican OF Luis Liberato, who has a name going for him at the very least. Liberato inked for $140k, a decent sum of money, and the scouting report we have on him at least seems positive. Among the pluses in his column (let’s call it “Colome”), left-handed bat, “mature approach”, and a potential center field future with a sufficient arm for right field. So, something like a lesser Julio Morban with a better arm. Among the negatives, a tendency to swing too hard for power at times, center field being less than a certainty, and the fact that a lot of scouting reports for these types of players read alike and there’s very little available to corroborate any of the information. Our new scout is doing stuff! You may never hear this player’s name mentioned again!

And that’s where we are in the realm of small-ish moves made by the Mariners that are still probably worth noting. Remember, we’re less than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting and time continues to pass.

Comments

26 Responses to “M’s Hire Dominican Guy, Who Signs Another Dominican Guy”

  1. Arron on January 15th, 2013 8:33 am

    “Just wait though: the mere fact that I’m coming out of hiding to post anything at all almost certainly promises some major move later in the day to push this down the page. Things are looking up!”

    If this is the case, what the hell took you so long?!?!?

  2. Jay Yencich on January 15th, 2013 9:26 am

    With great power comes great responsibility.

  3. sexymarinersfan on January 15th, 2013 9:35 am

    Hahaha! I needed this article. Thanks for the break down. I was hoping that the Seahawks could carry us a little closer to Spring Training but this will have to do.

  4. Mike Snow on January 15th, 2013 9:42 am

    My question is when do they stop serving us the subtraction stew of signings like Bay and Ibanez?

  5. Jay Yencich on January 15th, 2013 9:46 am

    In this case, “you will get nothing and like it” actually seems like it might kind of be true.

  6. maqman on January 15th, 2013 9:51 am

    Engle and Guerrero signed four guys today to our one, the Dodgers do know how to flash the cash. When our new academy opens up it should be a good development tool, hopefully. I like all the All Star tournaments they are doing now, mostly in the Dominican. They are expecting 200 to 300 scouts down there in the next week or two for three big tournaments.

    What’s your view on the two Cuban prospects Jay?

  7. Westside guy on January 15th, 2013 10:00 am

    Many of you know a lot more about this than I do, so I offer this humble question.

    Haven’t the recent rule changes regarding spending/signing of Latin-American players likely shifted the ground, so teams like the (formerly?) “high roller” Mariners are now less able to take advantage of having more/better resources and people on the ground in Venezuela, the Dominican, etc.?

    And thank you for the article, Jay! I always enjoy reading your stuff, so I am happy that school might occasionally spare you enough time to share new insights with us.

  8. georgmi on January 15th, 2013 10:37 am

    Phantom Tollbooth FTW.

  9. Jerry on January 15th, 2013 10:48 am

    Jay,

    So, would this new signing come out of the July 2, 2012 bonus pool?

    Did we sign anyone of note last year besides Luiz Gohara?

    If not, we should have a good chunk of money left. Gohara only signed for $880K, and this new signing only gets them up just over $1 million. That should leave them with nearly $2 million to spend.

    Are the M’s spreading around the cash a bit more this year? Or perhaps taking a year off given the changes in the international scouting staff?

  10. Jay Yencich on January 15th, 2013 10:52 am

    What’s your view on the two Cuban prospects Jay?

    If they’re new guys, none yet. I don’t have time or interest to devote to researching players that the team might not even have interest in.

    Haven’t the recent rule changes regarding spending/signing of Latin-American players likely shifted the ground, so teams like the (formerly?) “high roller” Mariners are now less able to take advantage of having more/better resources and people on the ground in Venezuela, the Dominican, etc.?

    I sort of touched on that in paragraph four (one of the shorter ones!). The new CBA rules mean that the pools for signings are now pretty rigid, which doesn’t benefit the teams that have money to throw around. However, things like facilities, presence on the ground, name recognition, scouting talent, and the ability of player development to develop connections with the player’s family, etc, those are all things that could skew in the Mariners favor. It’s a pretty common story for one team to have a second- or third-best offer accepted by the player because the team has built up a better relationship with that player (see: Felix Hernandez). Toledo probably only helps us on this front.

  11. BackRub on January 15th, 2013 11:01 am

    Very glad to see you haven’t retired JY. Any thoughts on if the prices for international prospects has looked like it while come down after the new CBA?

  12. Jay Yencich on January 15th, 2013 11:33 am

    So, would this new signing come out of the July 2, 2012 bonus pool?

    Did we sign anyone of note last year besides Luiz Gohara?

    If not, we should have a good chunk of money left. Gohara only signed for $880K, and this new signing only gets them up just over $1 million. That should leave them with nearly $2 million to spend.

    Are the M’s spreading around the cash a bit more this year? Or perhaps taking a year off given the changes in the international scouting staff?

    Yeah, this comes out of the 2012 pool. It resets every July 2nd I think. Hersin Martinez signed in April last year, so he doesn’t count in this particular pool. I haven’t heard anything else about this period’s signings, but I think it’s similar to the draft in that if they’re below $100k it doesn’t count against the pool (I was trying to look this up but I don’t have the time, so I could be wrong on that front.) This is generally the time that Pac Rim signings start to filter in, so maybe we have our attentions there, or maybe with the changes both in the CBA and the front office, we weren’t able to respond as quickly as we would have otherwise.

    Any thoughts on if the prices for international prospects has looked like it while come down after the new CBA?

    They definitely have, but they would have needed to. In 2011, before the new rules kicked into effect, the Royals gave one of the top bats on the market $3+ million. The Rangers gave one guy $4.95 million, $0.7m more than the Athletics gave Ynoa [LOL], and then gave $3.5m to some other dude. The highest bonus this year from the top 20 July 2nd prospects as ranked by BA was $1.75m. Much more reasonable.

  13. roosevelt on January 15th, 2013 2:42 pm

    We lost the first string and replaced these scouts with the Jr. Varsity.

  14. Jerry on January 15th, 2013 3:36 pm

    I think you make a good point about international hitters.

    In the last few years, we’ve seen Jharmidy DeJesus, Carlos Triunel, Mario Martinez, Phillips Castillo, Martin Peguero, Guillermo Pimentel, Alfredo Morales, and Alexi Palma.

    It’s too early to give up on Castillo, Peguero, Palma, or even Pimentel. Julio Morban has been pretty good when healthy. And the very early returns on Gabriel Guerrero are promising.

    But that’s not a terribly good return on investment. Most of those guys got over $1 mil bonuses.

    I know that Engle has a great reputation, but the track record hasn’t been good for a while.

    Compare that with pitchers: Michael Pineda, Jose Campos, Erasmo Martinez, Victor Sanchez, and now Luiz Gohara all have either worked out well, or brought the M’s great value via trade. Obviously, the book is still open on Sanchez and Gohara, but they both have been very impressive early on. That’s a pretty good track record.

    It’s odd that the M’s would do so much better with pitchers, as you’d think that projecting starters at the age of 16 would be much more of a crap shoot. Besides the two recent guys, I don’t remember those other players signing for large bonuses.

    Maybe it is best to sign 1-2 guys high six figure bonuses, then bring in 15-20 for around $100K.

  15. Jay Yencich on January 15th, 2013 3:57 pm

    There’s some selective attention there regarding pitchers. I can think of a number of high six-figure pitcher signings that haven’t amounted to anything. To rattle a few names, Miguel Marquez, Douglas Salinas, Jose Escalona, Danny Ayala Cruz, Kevin Quintanilla, Kenta Suda and Yao Wen Chang if you want to go Pac Rim with it [I'll leave Chia-an Huang out due to off-field reasons], and if you don’t, there’s still guys like Jose Rios, Alfredo Venegas, Jean Tome, Jesse Nava, Nolan Diaz… The difference is that pitchers tend to flame out a bit earlier and in less visible portions of the minor leagues whereas our failed hitters have gotten along a little further. The fan view is inherently skewed simply because it doesn’t usually have access to that kind of information or the attention for it.

  16. Sparhawk2k on January 15th, 2013 4:52 pm

    The Phantom Tollbooth reference made me so happy… It didn’t even matter what the rest of the article said.

  17. Jay Yencich on January 15th, 2013 5:03 pm

    The Phantom Tollbooth reference made me so happy… It didn’t even matter what the rest of the article said.

    TEN HOURS IN. Thank you.

  18. Westside guy on January 15th, 2013 9:08 pm

    I’m afraid I’ve never read nor seen the Phantom Tollbooth…

  19. Jay Yencich on January 15th, 2013 11:07 pm

    It was a formative book of my childhood, which says a fair amount.

  20. terry on January 16th, 2013 3:48 am

    Even Lightning McQueen needed a road to drive on…

    Infrastructure baby!

  21. californiamariner on January 16th, 2013 3:58 pm

    [off-topic]

  22. thedude1987 on January 16th, 2013 4:00 pm

    [off-topic]

  23. Jamison_M on January 16th, 2013 4:11 pm

    “I’m coming out of hiding to post anything at all almost certainly promises some major move later in the day to push this down the page.”

    Good call.

  24. Jay Yencich on January 16th, 2013 4:29 pm

    “I’m coming out of hiding to post anything at all almost certainly promises some major move later in the day to push this down the page.”

    Good call.

    WHAT HAVE I DONE

  25. bookbook on January 16th, 2013 8:24 pm

    Love your posts, Jay. Don’t post again, Jay. (At least we still have Felix… This time.)

  26. Jay Yencich on January 16th, 2013 9:00 pm

    I may quit blogging over this anyway.

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