International Amateurs Making Waves
During the 2020 off-season, the NBL and its owners agreed to open up International Complexes throughout the country to support the burgeoning international talent pool.
Scouts for each team are now combing the world in search of the next international star. Scouts are investigating talent in baseball hot-spots such as Australia, Japan, Venezuela and of course the island nations of the Caribbean.
International Complexes will house foreign amateurs found by NBL scouts. Amateurs will call these complexes home for up to 4 years while they learn fundamentals of the game. For many of these amateur players, this will be a life changing experience as many players come from lives of poverty.
A typical amateur player will be between 16 and 17 years of age. Current rules allow a player to stay in the International Complex until their 20th birthday. Once they reach 20 years of age, they will be promoted to the lowest level of the minor leagues for their parent team.
While at these complexes, players will not compete in any organized games, but will hone their talents through drills and intra-squad practices. There are no additional costs for teams to house these players, outside of the International Scouting Budget, that is set prior to the start of the new season. This budget provides lodging, food and equipment for the players in addition to funding the scouting of international amateurs. In addition, service time is not accrued at International Complexes. There are cases, however, when an amateur may exhibit upper level skills that would warrant a promotion into the minor league system ahead of their 20th birthday. If so, a team has the ability to promote at any time ahead of schedule, although service time will accrue immediately upon promotion.
As amateurs begin to trickle into team’s complexes, there are several players who stand out in this year’s amateur finds:
1B Manuel Vega, 16, Dominican Republic, New York Titans – Vega has raw power that turns heads in batting practice.
2B/SS Vaclav Van Der Lee, 16, Netherlands Antilles, Washington Grays – Van Der Lee has the speed and range to earn him a few gold gloves up the middle. He also possesses modest power and a good eye. One could see him batting second for the Grays in 5 to 6 years.
C Gerardo Arias, 16, Dominican Republic, Detroit Bombers – Arias is currently a swing for the fences type of player. As a catcher, offense is always a plus, but he has a lot of work to do on selecting pitches.
LF/RF Edgardo Castillo, 17, Dominican Republic, Atlanta Generals – Castillo has exhibited descent contact and patience during his short time in Atlanta’s International Complex. He could find himself on the fast track into Atlanta’s minor league system within two years.
LF/RF Juan Guerrero, 16, Venezuela, Chicago Blues – Speed and Power are Guerrero’s calling cards. At only 16 years old, however, Guerrero has plenty of time to improve his batting eye.
SP Jose Castro, 16, Dominican Republic, St. Louis Royals – Quite possibly the highest ranked pitcher in all of NBL’s International Complexes, Castro caught the eye of scouts with is above average slider. A starter in his youth, Castro will need to learn a few more pitches to be considered a viable NBL starter, but looks at least to be a sure bet to anchor the Royals’ bullpen in the future.
OF Vicente Diaz, 16, Venezuela, Seattle Gulls – Diaz is arguably the best pure hitting amateur in the system. Diaz’s uncanny eye and ability to hit to all fields has Gulls staff singing his praises. Is he a future batting champion in the making?
C Lorenzo Cruz, 16, Panama, Portland Loggers – Cruz has the much valued pedigree of a catcher who can carry an offense. With his combination of good bat control and power, Portland could have the makings of a perennial all-star.
Throughout the year, more and more amateur players will join those already in team’s complexes. Each amateur hopes to learn the skills of professional baseball in the hopes of making it to The Show. With a lot of hard work, diligence and patience, we just might see some in stadiums around America in the coming years.
Game Date: May 3rd, 2021
Last Updated (Wednesday, 23 March 2016 03:04)
Denver Chasing Win Mark
Thursday, 17 September 2015 14:59 | Written by Adam Annis-Brown
Denver Chasing Win Mark
Game Date: July 8th, 2019
Denver, CO - At the traditional halfway point of the season, the Denver Grizzlies are sitting comfortably atop the Western Conference's Midwest Division with an 18 game lead. With a record of 67-20 (.770), the Grizzlies have dominated teams with a league leading 7.1 runs per game average to go along with a strong 3.79 era, with only San Francisco's staff holding a better mark in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies accomplishments have put them on pace to smash the previous win mark of 113 games, set by the Sharks in 2017, and end the season with an amazing 119 projected wins. While preseason projectors concurred that the Grizzlies would field a division winning team that would win close to 100 games, few predicted just how dominant this team would be.
The strength of the Grizzlies is evident in yesterday's final All-Star selections. With a league leading nine All-Star selections, led by Rafael Pérez, Bam Bam Miller and Chow Hernández, the All-Star roster will be heavily represented with Denver red.
The recent addition of Sean White in a trade with Baltimore, strengthens an outfield threesome that was already ranked at the top of the league.
With this year's successes, however, rumblings about the financial future from upper management are being heard. Sources within the organization are concerned about player salaries and how the approximately 3.2 million average player salary, which is over half a million more than the league average, will effect future years. With a league imposed salary cap of 125 million, the Grizzlies have some serious financial decisions to make at the end of the year. Current estimates for 2020 have allocated 134 million for player salaries.
For now, however, with 67 games left in the regular season, and the Grizzlies taking their league leading 32-8 road record with them, the probability of a 114+ win season, along with a league championship, is high.
Last Updated (Thursday, 17 September 2015 15:02)
Koike Watch 2019
Sunday, 26 July 2015 23:56 | Written by Mike Barrett
Tremendous Talent Set to Hit NBL Open Market
Koike Poised to Cash In
The Nippon Professional Baseball League's premier player is set to enter the NBL's annual Free Agent feeding frenzy, and fans across the country are begging their Owners and GMs to make strong pushes for the 24 year old. Yasuhiko 'Muddy' Koike has pitched in Japan for the past 5 years, his last season coming with the Chunichi Dragons. Koike led the NPBL with a sub 2.00 ERA, 205+ innings pitched, and 243 Strikeouts. He also led the NPBL in the same categories two seasons ago. That's not where the excitement ends though. Before entering the NPBL, Koike was a massive talent at the plate. While he didn't get to fully capitalize on those talents in the NPBL, he did hit 6 Home Runs in the 2018 season in just 79 Plate Appearances. Teams of the NBL are drooling over the possibility of getting Koike on the mound for 30+ starts a year and also trying to squeeze a few hundred at bats out of him.
So, the question that's about to be answered, should still be asked. How much is Koike worth?
There is financial flexibility around the league, especially true in a couple of larger markets. Negotiations will surely be intense, and it will be a surprise to see a decision made early in the process, though Koike has reportedly already let certain teams know that he is not interested in signing with them. Fans from Arizona, Seattle, and Carolina have unfortunately been unkind on social media sites, as the disappointment of not even being given a chance sinks in.
I will predict that Koike lands in one of three places: New York, Pittsburgh, or a dark horse in Portland.
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