David Waldstein of the New York Times tells the story of Kieran Powell, a former international cricket player from Saint Kitts and Nevis who is down in Florida trying to make the jump to Major League Baseball.
It’d be quite a jump. While most of us are familiar with Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh who were signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as something of a gimmick back in 2009 and whose story was kinda told in the movie “Million Dollar Arm,’ no professional cricket player has ever made the big leagues. That Powell is nearly 26 and hadn’t picked up a baseball glove until very recently also works against him.
Working for him: crazy athleticism and a baseball immersion program at the IMG Academy in Florida which has some observers saying that Powell has serious potential. Some of Waldstein’s sources say that he profiles as a leadoff-hitting center fielder with gap power. It’s always worth tempering such sentiment about guys no one has seen play as there are incentives for people to exaggerate — and in this case Powell hasn’t even played in a game outside of a league in the UK last summer — but it’s intriguing all the same.
He’s already had tryouts with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets. Yesterday 14 teams scouted Powell at a showcase in Bradenton. In addition to his baseball skills, he definitely showed off his confidence:
“All you’ve got to do is hit the ball into the gap and get on base, don’t get picked off, come around and score,” Powell said. “Catch some fly balls, throw some guys out with your rocket arm.”
Oh, that’s all? Tell ’em, Wash:
One hundred and fifty-six players filed for salary arbitration by today’s deadline, the MLBPA announced today. As is always the case, today’s filings mean little in and of themselves. They do, however, kick off arbitration season in full force.
The things to watch for in the news:
- Teams and players will exchange figures between today and Friday, with the player saying what he thinks he’s worth based on comparable players of his quality and service time and the team proposing a lower counter-figure; Many compromise deals will be reached prior to the exchange of figures on Friday;
- As of Friday teams who, as a matter of policy, do not negotiate after the exchange of figures — so-called “file and trial” teams — will cut off discussion until arbitration hearings are held in mid-to-late February. Historically, the Blue Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, and White Sox have been “file and trial” teams;
- For the rest, there will be around a month’s worth of negotiations and, in most cases, “agreements avoiding arbitration” will be reached, either for one year or multiple years; finally
- For those left: arbitration hearings. At the conclusion of hearings, the arbitrators will award either the proposed salary of the player or of the team. There will be no splitting down the middle once hearings occur.
All of this applies to players with between 3 and 6 years of service time. Players with less than three years are not yet arbitration eligible and will be paid what the team wants to pay them. Players with greater than six-years, of course, either came to the team via free agency or struck deals prior to free agency buying out arbitration and/or free agency years.
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced today that the Padres and Astros will play two spring training games in Mexico this year. The games will take place in Mexico City on March 26-27.
The Padres are old-hat at playing games in Mexico. In addition to several spring training games there over the years, they played three regular-season against the New York Mets in Monterrey in 1996 as well as the 1999 Opening Day game against the Colorado Rockies.
This is all part of Major League Baseball’s ongoing efforts to grow the game internationally. Mexico has always been an attractive market for that due to its size and proximity to the United States and due to the fact that, while soccer is still king there, baseball is a long-established and well-established sport there too. You don’t have to teach Mexico to love baseball like you may have to teach people in Europe. You just have to get them more invested in U.S. baseball.
In other news, the elevation of Mexico City is 7,382 feet. Or, 2,102 feet higher than Denver, where the ball flies like mad. So what I’m saying is Astros and Padres fans shouldn’t worry too much if your pitchers give up a few more dingers than usual.