MLB has implemented some changes to their international signing rules and regulations, and Ben Badler of Baseball America is right on top of it with the details. Among the most notable rule changes are 1) that amateur players will now be allowed to enter team facilities earlier, specifically 18 months before they become eligible to sign, and 2) teams can pay for travel expenses earlier in the process for all international players. Badler notes that the latter change will affect recruiting in Venezuela. Also outlined in the piece are rule changes that impact international tryout players’ allotted time at team facilities, others that impact showcases, and some that relate to travel expenses. Avid followers of MLB’s international signing process ought to give the piece a full read in order to stay up to speed.
And now some other notes from around the globe…
- While there won’t be a player of Shohei Ohtani’s caliber coming to MLB from Japan this coming offseason, one impact player could still make his way over. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writes that left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who currently pitches for the Saitama Seibu Lions, could potentially make himself available through the posting system. There’s a widespread believe that Kikuchi could elevate himself to No. 2 starter status in the major leagues, thanks in part to a 92-94 MPH fastball that can touch 96 at times. Though he’s spent some time on the disabled list this season and seen his command diminish slightly from an otherworldly 2017 campaign, the southpaw would no doubt attract plenty of suitors on the free agent market.
- Back to Badler, who has some details on a budding “Trainer Partnership Program” with Latin America. The movement comes as part of a broader effort to cut down on steroid use from amateur players. Recently, the league held meetings with several of the most prominent trainers in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. At least 50 have agreed to join the new program, which will serve as a way for MLB to “certify” trainers who have agreed to comply with league standards.
- Yet a third piece from Badler details how the Cubs essentially lost their top 2017 international prospect. At the time Chicago signed right-hander Florencio Serrano for $1.2MM out of Mexico, Baseball America had him ranked as the 29th-best prospect in that international draft class. But MLB didn’t approve the contract, and actually ended up suspending the entire signing system for Mexican players owing in part to technicalities within the international signing restrictions. The piece gives some interesting insight into just how detailed the whole process is, and how even painstaking attention to technicalities can’t always subvert the spirit of the rules.