Ben Badler of Baseball America has a very interesting article on the state of baseball in Venezuela that is well worth a read. In short, the country is getting increasingly dangerous and that means the key decision makers of few teams are willing to visit and see potential prospects first hand. That also means that more kids are focusing on their baseball career over other potential means of escaping, and as a result the talent pool is getting deeper even as their per prospect cost comes down. As the situation deteriorates and the country becomes more unstable, we may yet see this nation avoided by baseball executives to an even greater degree.
And while this is terrible state affairs for the people of the country, and a state that I do not want to trivialize in any way, it does open some possible advantages for the Cubs that (this being a Cubs’ blog and all) should be at least briefly noted. The Cubs are one of just four teams still running an academy in Venezuela, and that means they are one of four teams who have a clear advantage when it comes to scouting attracting the top talent. That could pay dividends this year as the Cubs blow up their IFA signing budget, but it should also open some opportunities in 2016 and 2017.
Thanks to their spending plans this season, the Cubs are going to be capped at spending $300,000 per player for the following two signing season. Their edge in scouting and development in Venezuela combined with the depressing situation may allow the Cubs to sign prospects for that $300k limit who would normally sign for a much higher rate. As a result, the front office may yet land a higher ratio of quality talent over the two penalty years than we would otherwise expect.
Hopefully the situation in Venezuela improves over the next year to the point that the Cubs’ potential advantage will be fairly small, but I do not think that is likely. A more likely scenario would have one of the four remaining academies closing, the Venezuelan Summer League shutting down, and possibly even the Cubs joining the vast majority of teams in pulling out of the country rather than place their employees at too great a risk. It really is getting that bad.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa – This was a very back and forth game that the Cubs lost in the ninth. The final was 6-4.
Tennessee – Tennessee had the day off.
Myrtle Beach – Great pitching lifted the Pelicans to this 6-0 win.
South Bend – This game stayed close, but it was the Cubs who wound up with the loss. The final was 3-1.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] Jeffry Antigua, a former reliever, allowed 3 runs on 5 hits (including 2 home runs) over 5 innings in this one. He struck out 3.
- [Iowa] Yoanner Negrin, pitching in relief, allowed his lone tally on a solo home run. It was also the only hit he allowed in 3 innings of work. He struck out 3 as well.
- [Iowa] John Andreoli is may have the quietest .800+ OPS season in Triple A. He doubled and finished 3 for 3 in this one.
- [Iowa] Matt Szczur doubled, stole his 11th base, and finished 2 for 4.
- [Myrtle Beach] Duane Underwood turned in a gem. He tallied a Game Score of 76 by allowing nothing but 2 hits and a walk over 7 shutout innings while striking out 4. His ground out to air out ratio was was a robust 12-2.
- [Myrtle Beach] Jacob Rogers hit his 8th home run and also doubled as part of his 3 for 4 game.
- [Myrtle Beach] Mark Zagunis doubled, walked, and finished 2 for 4.
- [South Bend] Zach Hedges pitched 7 strong innings in this one. He allowed a run on 3 hits and 4 walks while striking out 6.
- [South Bend] Jesse Hodges finished 3 for 4. Gioskar Amaya, with 2 hits, had the only other multi-hit day.
- The Baseball America draft database is slowing being populated with some signing numbers. You’ll note that some of the signings we’ve heard in rumors are not yet listed. That does not mean those reports are wrong, just that they are currently only reports.