The Caribbean continues to represent a prime source for many future major leaguers, but is also an environment where finding players and signing them has been likened to the "Wild West" of the late 1800's in the USA. For some good reasons, the lack of structure in many aspects of player sourcing in Latin America scares some organizations.
The man charged by the Cardinals to lead their charge through this treacherous, but extremely promising territory remains Vice President of Player Procurement Jeff Luhnow, brought in from the business world almost three years ago. The Spanish-speaking executive travels extensively in his global leadership role for the organization.
Upon his return from the Dominican Republic and the conclusion of the 2006 season last week, Luhnow sat down with me for an extensive discussion covering the standout position players and pitchers from the Cardinals' Dominican Summer League (DSL) squad this summer. We also talked about players from that country who have made the move to the minor league system here in the USA and the overall status of the programs.
The first clip recaps the just-completed 2006 DSL season from a hitting perspective; how the rosters are managed, the Position Player of the Year, first baseman Francis Rojas, plus another standout selected to play ball in Venezuela this winter, outfielder Jairo Martinez.
Next, we discuss the organization's hitting philosophy as well as other standout position players on the Cardinals' 2006 DSL squad, including outfielder Edgar Lara, catcher Ivan Castro and second baseman Braulio Hiraldo and their winter ball plans.
And, there's much, much more from Jeff Luhnow still to come!
Look for the second installment of this exclusive interview Sunday, where Luhnow highlights the top pitchers from the DSL. In Part Three on Monday, we will discuss graduates from the Caribbean program who have moved up to play in the USA, including Jose Martinez, Donovan Solano and Juan Lucena and how and when we may see the next wave.
So, come right back here tomorrow for Part Two of what I hope you will agree is another in our series of very interesting and informative discussions with the Cardinals' international leader, Jeff Luhnow.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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