DALLAS - When new Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told me last week that "by the first of the year, I think we will have a very, very strong international recruiting department here. We will add veteran baseball people, scouts and executives," he wasn't kidding.
It appears the Orioles' international program went from 0 to 60 in about three seconds. Duquette said he would upgrade the international effort and it seems he has already done more here in a few days than the Orioles had done in the last the few years.
The new head of international scouting, Fred Ferreira, told me last night he has already reached verbal agreements with 10 new international scouts to be added to the organization in six different countries.
Ferreira also said the Orioles are looking into adding an academy in Venezueala and a team in the Venezuelan summer league.
Fans long wondering about the Orioles lagging in the international market must be saying, "pinch me, am I dreaming?" Frankly, these moves were long overdue and very necessary. This is a market in which the Orioles have been lapped by their competition.
Since we are talking about a market where you often sign 16 and 17-year-old kids, this may not bear fruit for the major league team for quite awhile but they had to start somewhere.
Ferreira may not be a spring chicken or even close to that, but he is loaded with experience on the international front. He started the Yankees' Dominican Academy back in 1984 when they were the first team in the majors to do that. He has been director of international operations for New York, Montreal, Florida and Cincinnati.
If the Dan Duquette-led Orioles come up short in international scouting, it is clear it won't be for lack of trying.
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