Monday, October 26, 2009
Twins Are International Player
“We want to be aggressive. We want to get good players internationally.”
Those are the words of Twins General Manager Bill Smith in an interview with TwinsCentric last week. Smith agreed to an interview with TwinsCentric for an appendix to the Offseason GM Handbook, which is currently available at TwinsCentric.com. In a 30-minute, 14-page transcribed interview, he revealed several details about offseason planning and the Twins future, including:
· That Smith is very comfortable going into spring training without Joe Mauer signed to a long-term extension, provided he feels like Mauer would like to stay long-term. Nick Nelson talks more about this at www.NicksTwinsBlog.com.
· The Twins finished their organizational meetings in Ft. Myers last week, and if you think the 137 page TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook is full of information on the Twins offseason, imagine how much information that Twins themselves have. John Bonnes discusses this even more at www.TwinsGeek.com.
(Just an quick point for those of you who have already purchased the pdf of the Handbook: we are sending out the new version with the appendix attached. And for those of you who have received the free one-third book, we’re sending you a new version too, with a subset of the interview included. That’s also the version available at TwinsCentric.com right now as a FREE download.)
It has been a tremendous year for the Twins as it relates to international signings. First, the Twins signed 16 year old German Max Kepler, generally considered the top player to come out of Europe, arguably ever, to an $800,000 signing bonus. Secondly, the Twins spent another $750,000 on Jorge Polanco, a 16 year old shortstop from the Dominican Republic. Finally, during the final week of the regular season, the Twins were able to sign the top player from the Dominican Republic, Miguel Angel Sano, to a $3.15 million bonus. The 16 year old SS is already 6-3 and over 200 pounds and frequently compared to the likes of Hanley Ramirez, or even Alex Rodriguez.
“We have tried to become more aggressive internationally. It has been a ten-year initiative. There’s a lot you have to build up. You have to build up your staff. You have to get your staff ready to be making evaluations. We have worked very hard to get more aggressive internationally And this was a big year for us.”
But how does a team become more competitive scouting, specifically internationally? The first step? According to Smith, “ownership has been wonderfully supportive of these efforts, and being more competitive in the international market.”
The owners have to give approval to spend more money on scouts, facilities, equipments, camps and more. There has to be patience. Ten years makes a lot of sense. The Twins now have a presence all over the globe. As we know, the Twins have strong ties in Australia. A look at the GCL Twins roster showed players from the United States, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Curacao, Russia, Czech Republic, France, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia. The Twins also have players in the organization from Aruba, Brazil, Canada, The Netherlands, Saint Maarten and South Africa.
In January, 2007, I have a Q&A with Mike Radcliff, the Twins Director of Player Personnel (he was the Twins Director of Scouting at the time). I asked if there were any untapped areas that the Twins were looking at. He said, “The untapped market many teams are looking at is China. With the next Olympic Games in Beijing, the development of the game is going to progress rapidly in that country. We are establishing ourselves now in preparation for a future plethora of talent in China.”
Signing top talent will require a lot of work, and potentially a lot of dollars. “If we can find them cheap, we’ll find them cheap, but we want to get good players on the international market.”
The signings of Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano are big for the Twins now, and could prove to be even bigger in years to come. In signing this type of talent, the Twins have done several things that can have long-term ramifications:
1.) Player Acquisitions – Obviously the key to player development is signing good players.
2.) Credibility – Signing top talent in various markets is noticed by future top players and their agents. Hopefully these signings can lead to more signings of top players in international markets.
3.) Fan Perception – Although the Twins will never (and should never) be in the running for the top free agents at the major league level, Twins fans should appreciate the organization’s willingness to spend significant money in player acquisitions in this market.