Yet as organizations such as the Cardinals continue to invest seven-figure bonuses on signings of teenagers like Carlos Martinez, formerly Carlos Matias, this year and third baseman Roberto De La Cruz two years ago, it is impossible to not consider those completing as part of expanding efforts in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
With approximately 70 players under contract, full summer league seasons and two levels of play in the winter, these leagues cannot be ignored. The biggest consideration is the building of the pipeline to get these players to the major leagues, a work in progress.
In this three-part report, I sat down with the Cardinals executive responsible for the organization's non-US efforts, Director of International Operations Moises Rodriguez, for an in-depth discussion on each of the two leagues and a number of general topics relating to the international program.
The focus of this first installment is the 2010 Dominican Summer League campaign, with the time spent more on the prospects than the team itself. The club finished 39-32, four games out of first place.
Among pitchers covered are Martinez, Willy Paulino, Victor DeLeon, Eduard Estalis, Juan Bautista and Stalyn Lopez. Bryan Martinez was promoted to the Gulf Coast League before the DSL season ended, a trend that may expand in 2011.
Among the hitters covered are catcher Luis Perez and second baseman Robelys Reyes, both .300 hitters, shortstop Daniel Barbuena and outfielder Ronald Castillo. Several players being considered for a trip to the US next spring are mentioned.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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