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.