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Mariners Shopping All Over

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In the comments to a recent thread about international scouting, Greg Schuler wrote:

The problem, as I see it, is that Pirates are fixated on the Dominican Republic, and there they compete with everyone. And $75,000 doesn't go as far as it used to in the past.

If you take that $75,000 to a different market like Colombia or Panama, for example, you can probably find the top end talent for that price. Walking around the DR with chump change means the best identifiable pospects are going to walk past you to a team with a bigger checkbook.

WTM responded that Rene Gayo of the Pirates was indeed scouting in Nicaragua, Panama, and Curacao. However, there still aren't any examples of any real international prospects in the Pirates' system anywhere above Bradenton.

Here's an article about the Mariners' organization, which is scouting almost literally all over the world, with very good results.

Few clubs sign players from as many locales as the Mariners, who have signed players from Japan (Ichiro, Kenji Johjima), Cuba (Yuniesky Betancourt), South Korea (Shin-Soo Choo, since traded to the Indians) and Australia (Chris Snelling) in the big leagues, not to mention players from all over Latin America. Engel expressed optimism for recent European signees as well, such as Italian third baseman Alex Liddi and Dutch righthander Greg Holmann, and now has added Truinfel and Martinez from hotbeds the Dominican Republic and Venezuela to the Mariners' recent haul.

It seems silly to even talk about the Bucs getting someone like Ichiro. But it's safe to say that for the other players, the Mariners are spending only a little and getting quite a lot. The M's paid $16 million for Johjima and got a solid offensive catcher. Betancourt cost only a couple million dollars, got to the majors almost immediately, and is younger and better than Jose Castillo. Choo cost just $1.4 million and netted the M's a real big-league hitter in Ben Broussard. Snelling probably cost very little and is potentially a very good player if he can ever stay healthy (which, admittedly, is unlikely). Liddi and Halman (it's Halman, not Holmann), neither of whom probably cost much, are both in the low minors but are performing very well there relative to their ages. There's a market out there that the Pirates can take advantage of if they're willing to do some work.