ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian has an interesting story today about scouting in Colombia, which may be the next Venezuela or Dominican Republic when it comes to amateur talent. For the story, he talked to Kansas City Royals scout Mike Toomey, who is all over that country looking for the next big thing. The other day I mentioned how tough it was for scouts to drive all over rural America looking for talent? Well, it’s easier than what Toomey deals with:
“Cars? No cars,” Toomey said. “We usually take the bus. I’m talking about a bus that has [an image of] the Virgin Mary on the front. I’ve been on that bus for 2½ hours some days going to see a player or run a clinic. People are playing the guitar and singing and dancing on the bus. I’ve seen chickens on the bus. At each stop, people get on the bus selling their wares. A guy hangs out the window and collects money. Sometimes the bus doesn’t go far enough, and we have to get out and take a cab. We jumped in a car once with a few guys that we didn’t know, but they just gave us a ride. Sometimes, we’ll take a three-seat scooter, it’s like a bike with two seats in the back. It’s beautiful. One time, to see a player in a mountainous area, a guy said, ‘Come with me.’ And we rode a mule the rest of the way.”
There’s talent everywhere. Guys like Toomey and teams like the Royals have a strong incentive to find it and develop it. Here’s hoping the extreme efforts they undertake to do so aren’t thrown away by the imposition of an international draft after the Collective Bargaining Agreement is up this fall.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.