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Small Scouting Staff For Latin America Makes It Hard For Orioles To Find Another Jonathan Schoop

November 29, 2017
In August 2008, the Baltimore Orioles made an unpublicized signing that turned out to be one of their best in years when they acquired a skinny, 16-year-old shortstop from Curacao named Jonathan Schoop.
 
Unfortunately for the Orioles, the Schoop success story seems to be an isolated one.
 
The Orioles have an extraordinarily small scouting staff, and they simply don't have the manpower to effectively scout Latin America and find more players like Schoop.

The Orioles' scouting staff, which could be among the smallest in baseball according to industry sources, has only two scouts -- Joel Bradley and former Orioles pitcher Calvin Maduro -- dedicated to Latin America, according to the team's 2017 media guide.
 
By comparison, the World Series champion Houston Astros picture 15 Latin American scouts in their media guide, and the Cleveland Indians list 14, including scouts for Aruba, Colombia and Panama.
 
The Orioles have turned their attention away from Latin America and spend most of their scarce resources on players from the United States.
 
Under executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, the Orioles have had some success in domestic scouting.
 
In 2017, Trey Mancini, who was selected in the eighth round of the 2013 draft, made a successful transition from first base to left field and finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
 
The Orioles also gave late-season looks in 2017 to catcher Chance Sisco (second round, 2013) and outfielder Austin Hays (first round, 2016). Right-handed pitchers Stefan Crichton (23rd round, 2013) and Jimmy Yacabonis (13th round, 2013) and left-hander Tanner Scott (sixth round, 2014) also debuted.
 
They joined right-hander Kevin Gausman (fourth overall pick, 2012) and left-hander Donnie Hart (27th round, 2013), who were also selected under Duquette's watch by scouting director Gary Rajsich.
 
That's a group with some talent, but what was missing was a homegrown player from the Dominican Republic or Venezuela.
 
The Orioles have Dominican right-handed pitchers Miguel Castro, Gabriel Ynoa and minor leaguers Jesus Liranzo and Yefry Ramirez on their 40-man roster, but none of them were developed by the Orioles.
 
Venezuelan outfielder Anthony Santander, a Rule 5 draftee made his debut in 2017 as well, but he wasn't originally signed by Baltimore.
 
Even before the Duquette era, which began in November 2011, the Orioles had little success in the Dominican or Venezuela. They haven't had a homegrown player from the Dominican Republic since right-hander Radhames Liz in 2009, and they've never developed a player from Venezuela.
 
Left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez seemed like a good shot to become the first homegrown Venezuelan Oriole, but after he reached Double-A Bowie in 2014, he was traded to Boston for left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller. Rodriguez made his major league debut in May 2015 for the Red Sox.
 
The best bet for the next native Dominican to play in Baltimore could be 20-year-old third baseman Jomar Reyes, whose 2017 season for Class-A Frederick was truncated when he suffered a broken right pinky finger punching a wall. Reyes hit .302 in 50 games for the Keys.
  
The scarce resources for international scouting are why the Orioles have traded away nearly all of the money Major League Baseball allows them to spend on young international free agents.
 
After the Orioles traded $500,000 in International Signing Bonus money to the Colorado Rockies for minor league right-hander Konner Wade on Nov. 21, the team was left with just $160,000 of this year's $5.75 million allocated.
 
They've made eight trades involving international money since July 2. Ramirez was acquired from the New York Yankees for International Signing Bonus money in July.
 
Left-hander Chris Lee, who also is on the 40-man roster, was obtained from the Astros in May 2015 for International Signing Bonus money.
 
The Orioles used $340,000 to sign three players from the Dominican Republic: shortstop Hector Vizcaino and outfielder Josue Cruz (both for $80,000) and third baseman Oscar Olivares ($30,000) and one from Venezuela, center fielder Ricardo Castro ($150,000).

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox