Signing international players is a bit of a weird game. It’s not like signing players in the US/Canada where players are subject to the draft and it’s all about just being the team to select a player first. On the international scene things get all kinds of strange.
Who do you know? Have you signed any of this trainers guys before? Are you willing to sign more of this trainers players if you also sign this guy? How much are you willing to pay? That last one seems like it should be the first thing that matters, but it’s not always the case.
The Reds, over the last 30 years, haven’t exactly been overly active players on the international market. They have made a few splashes over the years, most notably in 2008 when they signed two of the top international prospects in Juan Duran and Yorman Rodriguez for $2M and $2.7M signing bonuses. Since then they have signed just one player to a deal in the 7-figure range and it happened this past July when they inked Cristian Olivo to a $1M signing bonus.
Back in 2006 the organization lost long time scout Johnny Almaraz to the Braves. He’s the guy responsible for signing Johnny Cueto, among others, in his time with the organization. It was viewed at the time as a bit of a blow to the Reds international scouting (he was the Director of International Scouting at the time – and now is the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Phillies). The Reds moved forward and now have Tony Arias in that role, who has his fair share of signings on his resume (including Aroldis Chapman, Raisel Iglesias, Yorman Rodriguez and Nick Travieso).
Last week the organization took a step forward in adding to their staple of international scouts when they brought in Bob Engel as an international cross-checker, according to Jonathan Mayo.
Just learned Bob Engel has joined the @Reds staff as int’l x-checker. Great hire. Once hired sc dir Chris Buckley and intl dir Tony Arias.
— Jonathan Mayo (@JonathanMayo) January 4, 2016
Engel was among the giant set of guys let go by the Dodgers in August of 2015 as it appeared that their President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman wanted to start bringing in his own guys. Prior to joining the Dodgers in 2012 he was with the Seattle Mariners (since 2000). The biggest name that Engel is responsible for signing would seem to be Felix Hernandez, though he apparently also had a role in signing Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter while working for Toronto in the 90’s.
It’s yet to be seen if the new front office is planning on adding in more money to the international market (for teenagers – we’ve seen them spend just fine on big leaguers from the international market with Chapman and Iglesias), though they did make two big signings this past season. Adding in another big international scout with plenty of experience and in-roads certainly doesn’t hurt.