Aug 27, 2014|
How can teams acquire players who are entering their primes without having to live through the potentially massive transition of prospects coming from the minors to the big leagues? The Red Sox have two such case studies. The signing of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo represents one effort to acquire a player for his prime years for whom the transition to big league-caliber competition might not be turbulent. Red Sox assistant director of player personnel discusses the scouting process involved with landing Castillo. The episode also features Brock Holt, the one rookie who played at a consistently high level for the Red Sox this year. Holt explores some of the distinctions that might help to explain why he did not experience some of the struggles that characterized the seasons of Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.
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How do you get elite players in their crimes while avoiding the -- of turbulence faced by young players. Trying to get to the big leaks. This week bookstore to answers to that question. The first strategy can be called the brought people to answer and we'll explore that it. But first we'll discuss the Red Sox 72 point five million dollar answer that question as of yesterday of getting top prime -- talent. It nonetheless might not face the same level of transitional challenges as young players racing to the big leagues from the farm system. And servers make -- DO. Elite players defecting from Cuba have been changing landscape of how baseball does business UN assess but this has their brave -- hopefully. In -- this -- have all required little to no time to deliver star caliber performances in the big leagues. They've been coming to the big leagues not as young sometimes overmatched players but instead is more or less big league ready towns into the Red Sox have committed eight ton of -- resources. To the Cuban market. To explain that behind the scenes work. We checked in with Red Sox assistant director of player personnel -- banner. Who explains what goes into the evaluation process of this distinctive market the players who have no big leagues. From my general manager bench Harrington. He's put us in great position to to really go out and and try to find talent for the organization. And we have a lot of a -- waiters who work. A lot of hours. Putting a lot of time. In terms of players like -- they are or other players and other. Areas of the world and down you know like you said is a culmination of of a lot of effort and we're excited about it. Why look at the players see what what excites you about bringing him into the organization. He he's very athletic he used an explosive player and we're excited about the tools that he brings to the table. We don't wanna put too many expectations on -- gonna let him go out there I'm play him be himself. One of the great things about athletic players though is that they do things on the field that excite you as a scout they will do things that -- you turn your head do you have -- a memory of of something. Initially that you know that might appoint. To steal on your radar something he might have done on the field the just said you kind of had a wow moment with him. This thing that he does -- that I really like he puts pressure on the defense. You know you can't teach speed he has that. He has those aggressive instincts. And and he's going to be the kind of guy than them that brings excitement to the ballpark and we look forward that. What kind of what kind of things are -- -- -- you see him you know diving into a bullpen making -- catch have you seen him have you seen him just doing some you know running -- a while Bo Jackson's that would be seen. Yes we have seen him make some pretty incredible athletic defensive plays we have seen -- -- out of bases bunt for base hits things like that. Just them very well rounded game and taken to some exciting things on field. When you talk about that how long ago did evening how how long have you been you know mindful. This is crews make -- -- someone who needs to be on our radar. First I mean it's it's a really interesting thing the Cuban market to me is. Endlessly interesting because -- the talent that's coming out of there is enormous. The players are coming out of there are in their prime unlike Majorly free agents so it's a kind of different type of class. At the same time you know it's speculative how much you know you're you're you're looking at guys in tournaments and wondering well maybe one day they'll become available to us. -- when did you start take notice of him. I'd say we initially some backing in 2011 so it's been about a three year process now. Obviously with that market you're not seeing him on a daily basis it is seeing them. From time to time in tournament sweet and some again in in 2012. And obviously we've seen him a lot more recently so it's. Anytime you're making a decision of this magnitude you know you wanna have kissed -- on the plate when the research. You know we get a lot of digging on on the make up the kind of person is -- comes from. You know after people who knew him in a play within -- coaxed him in the past. So -- it's been a long process despite noted you know the media's got more involved the -- You know we've been given no reasoning for a long time now. How many times would you say that you see him in game action. I've seen him in game action now on on two separate occasions amongst a lot of other work outs and and things of that nature. In how many Red Sox how many people in the Red Sox front office in -- scouting department. You know have -- -- you know the the professional scouting department. Actually is it is in the pro department served with who still -- within your group well that's actually good question we have amateur scouts we have professional scouts of international staff to cut all put our heads together. In addition some of our front office staff we put our heads together. And a -- elect -- -- must have seen him and you know together along with who it would then we we made -- decision and that he was a town we wanted to add to the organization. Given the kind of wave of of players that's been coming out of Cuba have you guys done anything to reflect you know to reflect the perhaps -- I'm not -- if you -- this is the right word but. You know this is. In seeing the guys like -- status and Abreu who have come out you know as well as we -- you know as I said there is a unique talent base there. Have you know you guys are you guys coordinating scouting efforts in a way that reflects you know if we -- be acquiring these guys in the middle of their primes. You know this is we've we've got to we've got to kind of doubled down on on doing so. I think really for us it's just about adding talent to the organization anyway we can I think we do that you know through the draft through the and international market. You know through amazing free -- any time that it that we can. At county organization we tried to and I think this is another example of that. With regards to the scouting process with them I guess starting with game activity international competitions can be kind of difficult things from which to evaluate them I mean remember like. Don't hear analysts who you guys signs this past offseason had thrown I think a perfect game against once they Sri Lanka or something into its. You know that that you know we we deal with. You know obviously. From an immature perspective -- high at the high school of what you're doing with some significant -- disparities to that exists when -- when you're starting guys internationally as well. Yes they can't be the case it's it's not always an elite talent basin and really no matter what you're not seeing. Consistent. You know Major League talent that that there are going up against. So it's it's different and there is a level of projection and and subjective analysis they you have to do there. So to answer question it it it can be difficult but. But that's part of process and it's something that we that we welcome. From his career in Cuba you know or there are obviously you guys -- going to Cuba and just you know camp out behind the plate. Much as you might like to. Are there you know there must be Dean Pees at the right we see on YouTube you know various highlights and stuff do you guys pore over those sorts of things and to try to get. As much information as possible. I think you hit on the head we we deathly try to get as much information as possible and that means supplementing. Are. -- looks that we did you know -- our diocese we we then obviously go to the video and them do even more analysis and and do we can obviously like you said it can be difficult when you're talking about. Games that are taking place in Cuba. But you know we do our best to to get as much information as possible and and that that was. The case here with respect. So he come you know he defects and then there's a lengthy process of being able to gain citizenship in a place and of course being. Approved by Major League Baseball as -- as it creates knowledgeable guy at which point the showcase circuit takes him. How much can you learn as a -- from from those sorts of events. Well I I think you can learn a lot but -- like we said I think that history does it is just as important he never wanted to go into a showcase and and make a big decision based on Wednesday. It's about a long process. So it once again that was just the showcases just add more information you know there and just another piece of the puzzle. Was there anything particularly exciting when you guys were able to work him out a jetBlue park in Fort Myers that you saw. IE he confirmed a lot of the things stated that we'd seen in the past and we -- you know the speed the explosiveness. The athletic schism. The great make up those are the things that we really liked about. And we are excited to -- to the organization because of that. -- Ned Jarrett banner Red Sox assistant rector of player personnel. A great deal is -- the speed seems like it's a known quantity which in turn makes the defense something of a known quantity the thing that the reports that people are trying to to make sense of that it's all over the place is. What kind of hitter is -- what kind of power potential doesn't have obviously this is a strong guy. But nonetheless how how that approach works in games -- who knows how networks from your vantage point. Have you seen different in game power vs kind of showcase power you know such batting practice tower. What kind of offensive approach would you characterize him as -- it. So he he he definitely has some raw power he has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. We know that. And in terms of approach. You know that's the toughest part of the game when you actually get in the Major League batting -- and and and you. You know -- your facing may actually fixing on an everyday basis. And I'm sure it will be a challenge format initially just to get adjusted again. But we really believe in the athletic schism -- is the same game he's been playing. You know his whole life. We think he has the tools necessary to succeed. So we're looking forward to the talents and. He is -- that people that are are all fields cut you know he he can use that field he can death leaves the field. He's in part one to right center and in jetBlue perhaps. We we have seen him I hit the ball on the ball park golf fields. You mentioned you mention it your belief in your belief in the possibility of of a relatively quick transition to the big leagues. How impressed have you been by. How much the players coming from Cuba have been able to hit the ground running both. Both in general I mean the fact that you know that we've been talking about kind of rookie of the year caliber candidates and guys are performing at a star level pretty quickly. As well as given the layoff that they endure before they're able start playing in typically. You know it is impressive with some of these guys. And able to do in the past. And it's you know I don't wanna put any any expectations are -- man how quickly he'll be able to do the same. We just want to you know let him get out there again. You know get acclimated to our program we really believe in our. Player development staff. So we think we're gonna just try to put him in the best position possible. To succeed and then let him you know take it from there. As you -- acquire a player who's making a significant cultural transition in his life and you know not at a young age where he might be starting out at the academy in the Dominican or something. How much. Is -- is the process figuring out is step process before you figure out kind of market value and projections and that sort of thing figuring out what kind of accommodations you need to be able to make for his life transition to the states. You know we we have we have just. That in place to do a great job of making -- comfortable and in any capacity no matter where they come from her. What their needs might be so so we really believe that our organization is built for that from -- about. What what is the most exciting moments in the process for you is it when you've got a call from Ben saying yeah we got them is it when you get to meet him in person here and and -- and kind of safe and kind of see him in that press conference putting on that number 38 -- are going to be later is going to be when you finally get to see you in a big league game. That's a very good question today was obviously a great basing them here and and am having put on a Red Sox uniform. But but like you said it at the end of the day it's about adding talent on the field and and that -- -- Alex started to get him out there playing and and having them help the organization. What was your sense of his excitement to be joining -- to be entering into Major League Baseball you talk about the make up consideration. You know what do you what do you know about this guy hadn't done and his. His enthusiasm for for what lies ahead. Yeah he's a really humble hardworking guy and and he's really excited is an extreme as his whole life. I think he's really excited to just get back out on the field start playing again. -- -- -- -- It is a lot of money that the organization just committed to -- you've been intimately involved in the scouting process and in the recommendation of him is it. Just is it is it a name. Kind of fantastic moment right where you noted the organs that. You've been a part of the process where the organization is putting a lot of faith in your -- is it terrifying. Knowing that they are that they are going to. He make me a sizable investment for many many years based in no small part and I'm on your view of this -- Well of first -- it's a large group effort from a lot of different people and ownership in and then they really put us in great position to rise to acquire talent. And it's it's in terms is scouting process. Whenever you make an investment like this. Obviously. You know we wanna be right and we and we plan to be right on on receiving. But it it's disallowed if he people who we view it as an organization where a team. And and you know we won as a team and and that's our plan is to allow congress is talented to go out until help us do that. Well insert the fact that -- I think source for the time Jeremy thank you. Up ahead we'll check in with -- hole about why his big league rookie season has followed a different path than some others on the Red Sox. In a year where rookies cinder Bogart's in Jackie Bradley junior in another young player like will middle Brooks. Have all entered immense challenges and performing at the big league level it's worth noting not every Red Sox rookie has struggled. Indeed one has thrived. Why is -- all the different. By the time he forged a spot for himself in the big leagues in May -- had a considerable reservoir minor league in -- experience. On and off the field. He wasn't is a mature player who's comfortable with being able to adapt to the big leagues and his performance. Which has been that one of the top rookies in the majors has reflected that. It's worth noting -- had already enjoyed big league success by the time he broke through this year. Back in 2012 he went from double -- to a month that AAA to a season finishing September in which he has almost 300 as an every -- second baseman for the pirates. So is -- performance of this year simply continuation of what he did in 2012. Or is this your -- markedly different. Either on or off the field joined by Brock -- this -- in -- You know there's been obviously great rookie season for you your first. Almost full season in the big leagues. How different has -- you this is this is however you'd been up in the big leagues for a bit but in 2012. In 2013. You have success in 2000 -- this has been different this year. Or or were you comfortable in the big leagues from the beginning when you have efforts column in Pittsburgh. You know I think that's been on different. Obviously Pittsburgh Yi -- for college so. It was -- things were a wasn't comfortable and -- coming off of a pretty good -- season on the -- Pretty good month in AAA for my first first month in AAA to get to get the -- -- -- -- so I think that kind of carried over. It's into the September. With Pittsburgh. -- -- -- really enjoy -- there. You know have had some success. But but this year -- definitely a whole lot different just. A lot more comfortable. And I think that's a big thing when it when guys come up to -- -- Is this getting comfortable. You know whether it be with your teammates whether the plane and in the big stadiums in front of the more people. But. -- -- that there's a certain time where you where you get to two point where you realize that it's still the same game. And he can't you kind of go out there and relax a little bit and I guess breathe easier. You know your first -- a first time in the -- these obviously you're going to be you know. You plant up and and you know it's a little difficult to to calm yourself down hey you know at times but. You know the more the more experienced again. -- in the big leagues. Definitely helps with with that aspect I think that's -- and a big part of the success this year kiss the other -- next aspect of it. So hasn't been drastically different than for instance last year because she did have epic -- experience of 2012 defend coming over to an organization last year in 2013. The role that was different right you're playing third base for the first time and so the idea being thrown into new positions was was what's happening for you. You know how different has. I guess kind of what I'm getting at is how much does it help young players is they're trying to. Trying to move from a guy who's who's moving between tripling in the big leagues to have those couple of ups and downs going between those levels. Before you kind of establishes. Well you last year was the first for some really or experience the ups and -- part of go one. -- future ladies big the transfer we Mac's AAA for a month -- big east -- week. And I think that that played a big part you know in this this -- well just learning how to how to deal with that. Obviously every time he called the big the hi and then you know weeks later against the back down on violence where you know. Obviously you would rather be in the big leagues so and you go back down. -- it's it's and it's it's time what helped me was I was going through that and an understanding that that's part of it you know everyone's. Almost they're -- and but it's it's just about -- knocked into down. That continue into. The team to do what you're capable of doing. You know continue to go by your work the same way when you're up here or whether you're you're AAA. -- and -- -- -- -- to bring that into this year Iraq got called up earlier this year her for a day. And -- ran back down. It's something you could've. Men men angry about. And frustrated about it you know being called up late unite in an opportunity unique thing. But you know from from from last year going up and down up and down up and down and help me -- Don't get -- down on yourself. You know as long it's you know you you believe -- what you're -- Dylan you know Wallace I was. You know believe -- went -- it was and I knew I could play in the big leagues in and be successful in the big leagues but -- had to find that. You know that right time in the right spot the right opportunity in a fortunately for me out -- the nuggets and sit down and we're from me actually I got to come right back up and and -- given that given that chance and was able kind of prove myself. How difficult was it given the success you've had in Pittsburgh in September of 2012 through accepted you know your big big opportunity wasn't right then. Yeah I mean it's. It was weird for me is that now the first time I've been called out you know I never participated in a big league spring training. My first big league experience. And in that often treated solace in radiated to go to Bradenton. For spring training with a chance to to make the team. And analysts you know couple days after Christmas -- called that illustrated so you know it's it was it was weird you know it's go from a team like Pittsburgh. You know to to a the big market like like Boston. The obvious I think second base and it -- with Pittsburgh. And you know and in you traded off. It doesn't -- Lansing may well you know now. -- don't have to be a genius to figure out what to do ya heard me personality well. Probably not -- -- -- base you know so it was something that Yahoo! account I. -- in my mind you know you you may be moving around. I didn't know wallet and in the -- extent that I have you know this season but. But yet it's it's. The judge in any -- did you get. The Indy speedway in the big -- inexperienced so it's gonna help. I like the September call in Pittsburgh -- I guess it -- not the way and then last year you know. Up and down and down a few different times that with last year's team I didn't know the guys a little bit. It definitely helped with that this year coming up and and can be more regular and. But that that kind of plays into a please -- a question that's been really interesting surrounding. You know surrounding some guys -- did move really fast and including yourself because in 2012 obviously. He did really well in Tripoli in double late put yourself in position. To have a monster month in Tripoli which in turn got into the majors faster obviously -- Pittsburgh had been anticipating otherwise you would have been in big league camp that here. Problem. How much benefit is there to a full year in AAA how much more benefit is there. To a four year and to play him like a half season AAA. Are -- different opportunities for player development in that extra happier. I've yet I think it's different for every player honestly and you know I think some guys can he go up things and get their feet -- trip. Get their feelings are laying you call that can be successful in the big leagues. Yeah I mean there's guys that they need to have a couple years of -- money. Yeah -- is more veteran. Or a veteran. Oh lead. -- double A you have more. Effectively and more prospects and a younger guys electrical you've got guys that played -- -- something. And it yeah they're they're down to that they can know what's going on more and more veteran guys -- can -- them. Teaching what you're supposed to do -- not you as a young guy. You know first going up and don't have the big leagues and but I think -- nice that -- -- -- forever. For me you know I've. Started -- 2012. Play a full season 2011 -- repeated and then. Was up in all. Tripoli August 7 and in -- -- persons in Pittsburgh. So that now is in the first and certainly experienced but and obviously that's a pretty much in the flew here in Pawtucket with. If you -- six students here. You know last year with the huge learning learning experience for me. Not just the baseball part. -- learned how to cope with -- -- with you know going out and going down. Gone learned from me actually last year learning. How to how to fail. You know it's different if you have had failures in -- it's not it's magnified. As it is obvious in the big leagues so it's easier to. -- to get through that and and work on what you need to work on it to get back on track. How mindful that you've been -- that the fact that you you got an opportunity. To learn that. Unwanted lesson in AAA last year as opposed to you know when you've seen some your teammates this year. Who had never struggled in the minor leagues -- or probably in their baseball lives. All of a sudden having -- having that first time of you know that that first reality check coming under under the biggest spotlight. Yeah that's. -- you see that happen. It's it's obviously more magnified here in the end times that hikes in playing and playing in Boston on. You know for me. Obviously you don't wanna go through struggles -- time. You know last year I was I was mad how frustrated all year. But looking back -- line of the night. And even thought it was in Pawtucket you know -- -- read it here. Because yeah it's it's not as magnified there's not as much. -- -- scrutiny or media or. People asking questions it's more you can focus on moron. You know doing what you need to do you -- give back to add to what you're. Where you see you lawyer capable of doing. What you you can focus more on on the baseball part of this post as always the question answer this or this or that so. You know last year obviously. We would would love to be able to go back in and and do it again had a better year but you know I think -- a lot about a lot of. With regards to this stuff that you see the big leagues like when insisting part of the conversation about the transition from Tripoli to the majors. Is that you're seeing stuff -- some like anything you'd ever seen before. For instance thank you Dan Butler. So a -- Cotter. Again from right handed pitcher for the first time in his life I think up here. Com because you'd had it. Because you had a full year in -- have you been has had to seeing different stuff here in the big leagues this year where do you feel like your eyes are kind of trained. Already at this point you're like for the pitching you've seen at this level. Yeah I think still I mean I think. For me personally -- simplified nieces and this much -- -- in -- box sells Iran he. I look you know I'm looking fastball rate hit it -- and I just everything else so my approach is fairly simple. -- -- -- Regardless of you know. How many guys who aren't picks in this matter -- lefty or righty -- Obviously the guys in the big leagues know how to -- You know more -- -- AAA. They have them scattering reports in this and that so. You know technology in. India and knowledge that they did anything you before they face she is greater as postage AAA. You know I mean that you go out. This guy. Throws right handed he's got that lawlessness. Curve ball whenever that. You know you we can watch video on guys that that we never heard of -- he can handle it with and what -- -- it -- -- You know that's the biggest difference I think between the two weeks. To me there have been basically two guys who as rookies have had their performances stand up to their consistency this year in the big leagues. And that's you and die and Jose every. In you know the interesting thing to me about both these guys this. You're not 26 right -- -- How much does it help to. To have that you know to have a little bit more life experience. You know when you when you look at some of you know against them your teammates. Who have who have been you know Olympic experience of these ups and downs. Do you think that that maturity you know just having seen a little bit more of life has been a bit of a difference maker a separate or in terms of being able to make -- and completely. I think so for me personally as obviously out would have loved to been -- at age 41 but not all that sir that -- -- Yeah I think that's another one that's that's kind of different for forever player I think. Some guys to come out and play -- -- as a teenager are 21 year old you know have success is because. Yeah they're good. Some guys are gonna struggle. Yeah I think I think that -- a bit of life experience theology when I was 21 thousands of college you know I can't imagine. You know playing shortstop for the for the Boston Red -- everyday here or you -- -- plan. There are still normally I don't think they're. The Boston Red Sox so. You know -- -- speak for those guys. How I would love to do this thing out policy in the big leagues -- -- when he won. My -- not all of this mean and say that. Not for me. Age it's helped out in older and a founders understanding a little bit more. What I need to do when I don't need to do. My thanks to Brock called endured banner for joining districts show if you'd like to -- the complete -- -- -- both of them check back at WEI dot com slash podcast. Thanks to producers Saturday and they'll just telling into all of you for listening kitchen next Sunday.