Enter, Dave Dombrowski. Looking through the 152 eligible prospects from 2007, a slightly lower percentage (78%) were obtained through the draft and undrafted signings. The Tigers presence in Venezuela remained roughly the same on a percentage basis, while the percentage of Dominican prospects jumped by a small margin.
Since 2002, the Tigers have begun working jointly with several teams at Jose Rijo's academy in the Dominican Republic, and have also established their own team/academy in Venezuela; participating in both the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues for the last several years. While the number of prospects present on the stateside teams has not changed by any significant magnitude, there is clearly a larger pool of players from which the Tigers are pulling in this region.
Looking at the above representation, it is more than evident that the Tigers rely heavily on the draft and their North American scouting to provide their system with talent. I expect that if similar studies were performed on other organizations, similar results would be discovered. It is encouraging to see small gains in the percentage of prospects coming from other regions of the globe, particularly when considering the shear number of prospects participating in the Latin leagues that were not considered in this review.
However, it remains painfully obvious that the Tigers carry virtually no presence throughout the Pacific Rim, and throughout other burgeoning regions of the globe. In 2007, the Tigers lone prospect from the ‘other' category was right-hander Jair Jurrjens (who is no longer with the team) from Curacao; and he was identified through their efforts in and around Venezuela. Many teams throughout baseball have begun searching and finding talented baseball players all over the globe; from Taiwan, China, and Korea, to Australia, New Zealand, and even Europe. Just as the Tigers have expanded their presence in Latin America, they must begin expanding their presence in these other potential talent hotbeds.
For years during the late-90s and early-2000s, followers of the Tiger's minor league system longed for them to become more active throughout Latin America – the next great frontier in baseball. They were a little slow on the trigger, but now that they have begun establishing a strong presence in the region, they are on the verge of reaping the rewards of such efforts. Over the course of the next five years, it could be anticipated that the percentage of stateside prospects obtained through North American scouting activities could continue on a similar downward trend as seen from 2002 to 2007.
They certainly are not there yet, but the Tigers are beginning to make strides in becoming a player on the international market. With the recent success of the Major League team, and the recent investment in building a strong and diverse farm system, there is plenty of reason to believe the Tigers are on a path of continued success that could stretch well beyond the end of this decade.