I wonder if this is something that extends beyond the Pirates and will have implications for other teams as well:
The Pirates have notified their Venezuelan academy that the organization will be terminating its lease and no longer participating in the six-team Venezuelan Summer League. Though the Pirates have not commented publicly on the situation, the instability and political climate in Venezuela is thought to have played a large role in the organization’s decision to pull out.
Lots of good ballplayers in Venezuela. If fewer teams have academies down there, there will be fewer opportunities to discover them.
Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.
When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.
Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.