Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays' scouting expands worldwide

When the Rays this month announced plans to start an academy in Brazil, it might have turned a few heads.

To Carlos Alfonso, it's just the beginning.

The Rays' director of international operations said the club's footprint in procuring players overseas has grown by leaps and bounds in the past three years.

It has signed more than 70 players from Japan to Argentina since he came aboard in 2006. And though the Rays continue to make strides in the hotbed of the Dominican Republic, they also have plans for scouts to expand their territory to Europe and Australia and will have another cover the Pacific Rim.

Alfonso admits, like with Brazil's academy — which could house 40-50 players — results will take time. But the Rays are getting closer to reaping the rewards in Latin America.

SS Omar Luna, signed from the Dominican Republic in 2006, became the first such acquisition to make it to Class A. He hit .251 with 19 doubles and 19 stolen bases for Columbus last season after a year with rookie-league Princeton.

"We've signed quite a bit of players from Latin America probably faster than we thought," Alfonso said. "We've come leaps and bounds from where we started. It takes some time. It's going to take a little bit more time to go forward. We're excited. I never envisioned in less than three years we would be this far in the game."

Alfonso, who has spent more than 40 years in pro baseball, also couldn't have foreseen all of the changes in international scouting; from the emergence of agents to the growth of the game in nations such as Peru, Ecuador and Argentina. Last month, the Pirates signed two pitchers from India, the first players from that country to sign contracts.

"Hopefully in my lifetime," Alfonso said, "I'll be able to see probably as many as 15-20 countries represented (in the majors)."

roster watch: Though the Rays have improved their depth with the acquisitions of OF Matt Joyce and RHP Joe Nelson, they are still in the market for another big bat, possibly a DH.

OF Milton Bradley might be leaning toward the Cubs, making Jason Giambi, Pat Burrell, Garret Anderson and Bobby Abreu the most likely candidates for the Rays. Angels GM Tony Reagins said his club will stay with their existing outfield, which helps the Rays by taking a team out of the bidding.

Rays rumblings: In his career, Nelson has been tough on left-handed hitters (.216) as well as righties (.241). … OF Fernando Perez is playing well in the Venezuelan winter league, hitting .301 with two homers and seven RBIs.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith

Tampa Bay Rays' scouting expands worldwide 12/27/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 10:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays vs. Angels, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Angels

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  2. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    The Heater


    At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.
  3. Bucs' O.J. Howard ends big day with BP, first pitch for Rays


    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard is known for his athleticism at 6-foot-6, 251-pounds. As an outfielder, he took his Autuaga Academy High School baseball team to the state tournament in Alabama as a junior.

    On Monday, after a little instruction from Steven Souza, Jr., the left-handed hitting Howard started making …

  4. Arm problems in the past, USF rides pitching into AAC baseball tournament


    TAMPA — By his second relief inning in last year's season opener, USF right-hander Ryan Valdes had lost the fizz on his fastball.

    USF senior right-hander Ryan Valdes, an Alonso High alumnus, is one of three prominent Bulls pitchers flourishing after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. [USF Athletics]
  5. Ryan Fitzpatrick likes Bucs weapons, believes he's a good fit


    Ryan Fitzpatrick’s experience playing for six other NFL teams is what made him attractive to the Bucs as a backup to starter Jameis Winston. But if he has to play, the former Jets quarterback is happy about all the weapons on Tampa Bay’s offense.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick is happy about all the weapons on Tampa Bay’s offense.