Marlins committed to cultivating international market
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
What the Miami Marlins are building internationally is worth taking notice.
In recent years the organization has taken a giant step forward when it comes to signing high-end international talent. This is a far cry from much of the franchise’s past, when the Marlins didn’t view the international market as a high priority.
Under current ownership, that has changed in a big way.
Last June, the Marlins broke ground on their Dominican Republic Player Development Complex, a 35-acre facility that will be their international headquarters.
The complex will feature three MLB-sized playing fields, an agility field, a two-story athletic and administration building, and a residential complex with 112 beds for players.
“We’re establishing our presence in Latin America, which is our goal,” said Adrian Lorenzo, the Marlins senior director of international operations. “It’s our goal to lead the charge in Latin America. I think it’s a really viable way to grow our organization. In addition to that, we’re the Miami Marlins. We’re the Gateway to Latin America, so it’s pretty important have a pretty big presence.”
The state-of-the-art facility in the Dominican Republic affirms the Marlins commitment to tapping into the fertile market of international players.
The Marlins even are adding a second Dominican Summer League club, which doubles the amount of players they will be adding to the complex.
Eury Perez, Jose Salas, Yiddi Cappe, Victor Mesa Jr. and Ian Lewis headline the list of players signed since the ownership group headed by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter took over in the fall of 2017.
These five players are currently ranked on the Marlins Top 30 prospects list, per MLB Pipeline.
Perez, ranked 6th by Pipeline, is a 6-foot-8 right-hander from the D.R. who signed for $200,000 in 2019. Salas, ranked 10th, is a shortstop was born in Florida and played in Venezuela, signed for $2.8 million in ’19. Cappe, a shortstop who defected from Cuba in 2018, is 15th on Miami’s prospect list. He signed for $3.5 million in January of 2021.
Victor Mesa Jr., a left-handed hitting outfielder from Cuba, signed for $1 million in 2018. Mesa is 17th on the team’s prospect list, and shortstop Ian Lewis from the Bahamas, signed for $950,000 in 2019. Lewis is rated 23rd by Pipeline.
Much of the organizational priority shift stems to when the Marlins signed the Mesa brothers in 2018.
Along with Victor Mesa Jr., Miami also made headlines by signing Victor Victor Mesa for $5.25 million.
Whether older brother Victor Victor pans out remains to be seen. Victor Jr. is regarded as having plenty of promise.
Their projections aside, signing the Mesa brothers sent a signal to players and the rest of MLB that Miami was willing to step up to the plate when it came to pursuing the top rated international prospects in the class.
“From the moment I got here, back in November of ’18, my first day on the job was the Mesa brothers’ workout,” Lorenzo said. “Back from that day, the intention to grow this operation and the commitment to follow through.”
The current international signing period started last Saturday, and the Marlins’ top ranked signing was shortstop Yoffry Solano from the D.R. for $750,000. Solano is 44th on MLB Pipeline’s Top 50 international prospect rankings.
The signing period lasts through Dec. 15, and the Marlins already have more than 40 players signed.
The numbers help them fill their two DSL teams.
“It’s basically an opportunity to add another 35-40 players into the organization,” Lorenzo said of having two DSL teams. “Then, functionally speaking, down in the Dominican, when you have two clubs, there’s just a lot more really interesting things you can do. You can play a lot more intersquad games. You can develop a lot more pitching, because you can add a lot more pitchers to each roster, to support the organization.”
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