12/14/12 12:31 PM ET
MLB holding tryouts for International Showcase
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Things are really starting to add up for Major League Baseball's Prospect League.
Starting on Friday, representatives from the MLB Prospect League are holding tryouts in Nicaragua, Colombia, Panama and Curacao on consecutive days to find prospects to attend the second annual MLB International Prospect Showcase to be held next month in the Dominican Republic.
Last February's showcase featured the top prospects from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela eligible to sign on July 2, 2012. The latest version, for players eligible to sign on July 2, 2013, could include as many as 20 prospects found on the four-day tour.
Approximately 65 players will be scouted during the trip.
"This international market -- as much the Dominican Republic and Venezuela make up a great deal of market -- it is bigger than just those two countries," said Joel Araujo, manager of Latin American game development for MLB. "We are interested in game development and finding ways to globalize the game, and have it continue to grow. There is talent in all of these countries, and we want the industry to see that."
The scouting tour, which began in Masaya, Nicaragua, continues on Saturday in Cartagena, Colombia. There's a stop in Panama City on Sunday, and the final stop is in Curacao.
The first international showcase featured 25 prospects from each country, and they displayed their skills in front of more than 200 big league scouts in a series of drills that included a 60-yard dash and infield, outfield and batting practice. The prospects also played two games.
Last month, MLB held a showcase in Venezuela in front of 175 scouts to find prospects for next month's event. In September, MLB hosted a showcase that featured some of the top amateur Dominican players at Tetelo Vargas Stadium in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. MLB also hosted a four-day tournament that featured amateur teams from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and USA Baseball in Santo Domingo, D.R., in August.
The league created MLB Prospect League for players eligible to sign professional contracts on July 2, and for older players, last spring.
"The audience these players will be in front of in January will be the biggest of their lives, and they are deserving of it," Araujo said. "If you are a top player, then you should be at the showcase, and we are looking for you. This is something that has not been done before, and it can be a huge asset for the clubs."