An interesting new concept and one that is past due but do you guys think it will help or hurt the Yankees?
Dominican Prospect League winds down
Several months ago, La Esquina profiled the start of the Dominican Prospect League, a brainchild of agents Brian Mejia, Ulises Cabrera and Roberto Morales where unsigned teenage Dominican prospects could participate in a league designed to show off their talents to MLB team scouts. The aim was to erase the perception that Dominican prospects could not be properly evaluated -- and consequently compensated -- by teams since, unlike their American and Canadian counterparts, they don't participate in games.
This week, the four-team league announced they will be holding their first annual All Star game on Saturday Jan. 23 at the Tampa Rays complex in Guerra, Dominican Republic. At 9 a.m. Players from each roster will participate in a skills competition where they will perform in such events as the 60-yard dash, and infield and batting practice. The game will follow at 11 a.m.
The event will be a culmination of what has mostly been a successful venture for the league's founders.
"It's been a good venue where people can see true talent week by week," Mejia said. "You can see the guys get better. It's refreshing to see this type of talent get together."
Mejia notes that seven players who had been overlooked on July 2 have already signed contracts in the mid five-figure to low six-figure range. And it's not only players who have benefited. Teams not known for spending top money on players -- and who are often shut out from seeing some of the best talent -- now have the same opportunity to scout as do big-spending teams.
"The league has allowed me to see the supposed top players for this year's signing period in game action," wrote Reds Latin American scouting director Tony Arias in an email. "Time will tell if all the top kids participated in the DPL. I think most Latin Scouting Directors have made it a point to see the DPL games when they are in the Dominican on Wednesdays. It has been beneficial to both the kids and teams in the scouting process in allowing all teams access to scout the kids playing in games amongst their peers. I hope they continue to have harmony and success with this venture as I think it benefits all the people involved with baseball in the Dominican."
Most scouts have had such a positive experience with the league that several were tapped to pick the top five players from each team that they would want to see in the All Star game. In order to promote more interest from fans and other observers, the league will also take into account All Star online voting on its league website, which also has stats and profiles of some of the players.
Of course, not everything has gone smoothly.
The founders still have to deal with bickering Dominican trainers who complain about playing time for their players.
"The problem is that every buscon wants their player to start the games and not everyone can start," Mejia said. "They don't understand it's a process. Some buscones want their pitchers to start games because that's when most scouts are there."
There is also still a lack of continuity as to whether players will show up week to week once they have tried out for teams on their own. Also, though most teams' scouts have shown up regularly for games, Mejia notes that some teams -- like the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles -- still have not had a regular presence at games.
The league had also hoped to drug test and age investigate all of the players, but they've been unable to do so because of limited funding. Mejia said that sometime this spring the league will identify the top players and then have them investigated and tested for drugs.
"We're going to have to use our resources the best way possible," Mejia said. "It's going to be hard to investigate all 80 kids, almost impossible. The resources we have are limited, so we have to use them wisely."
"I think it is too early to evaluate the league," said one Latin American scouting director who wanted to remain anonymous. "I am a big proponent of it, but to make an impact, it needs staying power."
Another Latin American scouting director added, "The league is fine. But let me make it clear that this league is not the 'Dominican Prospect League.' There are very significant players around the Island that do not play in this league."