A look at the Rays operations in Brazil
ESPN The Magazine's Jorge Arangue Jr. presents an interesting look at the Rays efforts to establish a presence in Brazil and eventually reap the benefits talentwise.
Arangue writes about Edno de Souza, a consultant for the Rays, and says mission is help build a pipeline of prospects from Brazil to Florida's Gulf Coast.
In June, Tampa Bay expects to begin construction of a 29-acre baseball academy in Marilia, Brazil, approximately four hours north of Sao Paulo, which they hope to fill with Brazilian ballplayers who will one day shore the foundation of the Rays' franchise. Tampa Bay's ambitious efforts -- when completed the academy will be the first of its kind outside the Dominican Republic and Venezuela -- are headed by the legendary scout Andres Reiner.
If you don't know Reiner, perhaps you should. With a limited budget in the late-1980s and '90s, Reiner was instrumental in making Venezuela a hotbed for MLB talent. Every successful Venezuelan player from that generation -- Bobby Abreu, Johan Santana, Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen, and Melvin Mora, among others -- either was signed by Reiner or passed through his Houston Astros' academy in Valencia. Now, Reiner, on the cusp of 76 years of age, believes Brazil will be his next gift to baseball. "This would be the culmination of my career," he says. "I'm convinced Brazil will be a great market. I've always been something of a visionary. And this will be difficult, probably more difficult than anything I've ever done. But if this succeeds, it will change the history of baseball."