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Ben Badler: Orioles Have Long Way To Go Internationally, But Right People In Place

January 25, 2019
The Baltimore Orioles hired Koby Perez Jan. 2 to be the team's senior director of international scouting, a department not often utilized in past years. The hiring was a clear indication from general manager Mike Elias and assistant general manager for analytics Sig Mejdal that the team intends to tap into the bevy of talented players in Latin America.

And while Perez's hiring bodes well for a team that lost 115 games last season, it could still be a few seasons until the team is able to sign top prospects from the region because of how quickly those players sign with -- or commit to signing with -- major league teams, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America.

"The market is just moving extremely quickly. I would say most of the 2019 players already know where they're going to sign," Badler said on The Bat Around with Stan "The Fan" Charles Jan. 12.  "A lot of the top 2020 players do as well, so a lot can change over time but it's definitely starting. Even though the 2019 signing hasn't even started yet, they're still behind just because of how fast everything moves in Latin America."

The 2018-19 international signing period opened July 2, but with the Orioles lagging behind internationally and in the midst of an organizational overhaul, the team wasn't able to capitalize its international signing bonus pool. Thus, the team missed out on signing players like Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa.

"I think the biggest thing for them was just to get the right people in charge because guys like Mike and Sig, they're going to really shape the entire organization much more so than one player like a Victor Victor -- but at the same time they really should have signed Victor Victor," Badler said. "This is a guy who everybody knows who he is -- or should know who he is -- and the Orioles had far more money available in their international bonus pool than anybody else."

There is still a chance the Orioles could use their international signing money to get a player from Latin American, particularly Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, Badler said. It might not be a top prospect, but a player other teams missed because of the sheer number of prospects in the region. 

"If you do find that under-the-radar type of guy, you do have a little bit more financial flexibility to just offer him more money than somebody else and max out their entire international bonus pool," he said.

Moving forward, being competitive in signing international talent comes down to how much money is willing to be spent and how many scouts the Orioles can send to the region to scout talent for not only the 2019 signing period but also players in the 2020-2022 periods as well. 

"You really need a lot of people on the ground to be able to stay on top of these guys and get to know them as well as they can to build as much history on these players as possible to make good decisions," Badler said. "The ownership has to be able to say, 'All right, here's $4 million or $5 million' -- not all that much in the grand scheme of things -- to go out and be able to sign some of the top players in Latin America."

While just how much money the Orioles will put toward international scouting is yet to be seen, Perez hiring is a good start, according to Badler. 

"He's got a really strong track record behind him, which I think is really important and somebody who has a lot of respect among his colleagues and his peers in the international scouting world, too," Badler said.

For more from Badler, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles