Omar Minaya and Theo Epstein spoke at a round table
discussion over the weekend and the subject of Latin American player development came up. This was fun:
While many big-name players have emerged from the Dominican Republic,
the highly touted athletes often are kept out of baseball games and
kept in training facilities, thus explaining the tendency of Dominican
prospects to be more raw than most minor-leaguers. Buscones, which are
similar to agents in the Dominican Republic, take the talented children
(as young as 10 years old, according to Minaya and Epstein) and have
them fine-tune their stills through drills. This hinders their baseball
thinking so much that Epstein recalled a player that the Red Sox had
given $500,000 to that they soon realized did not understand what a
force out was.
Of course, given the fact that the Red Sox haven’t produced a single Latin American prospect of note under Theo Epstein maybe this anecdote says more about the Sox’ Latin American scouts than it says about the habits of Dominican kids and the buscones who find them.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.