Nats keep eye on Venezuela for top-flight prospects

If you study the 2020 Nationals instructional league roster, you will notice a good amount of talent drawn from Venezuela. Of the 65 players on the roster, 16 are from Venezuela. Here is a list of those Nats prospects in attendance at the October camp in West Palm Beach, Fla., along with their top 30 prospect ranking, according to MLBPipeline.com:

Pitchers

RHP Tomas Alastre
RHP Mirton Blanco
RHP Niomar Gomez
RHP Angel Guillen
RHP Andry Lara (No. 4)
RHP Carlos Romero
RHP Karlo Seijas

LHP Alfonso Hernandez

Catchers

Ivan Murzi
Wilmer Perez
Israel Pineda (No. 12)

Infielder

Jose Sánchez

Outfielders

Braian Fernandez
Jorge Hurtado
Ricardo Mendez
Roismar Quintana (No. 13)

Assistant general manager of player development Mark Scialabba said every Latin American scouting destination is crucial to the growth of the Nationals as a franchise.

Ntaionals-Cap-Sunglasses-Glove-Sidebar.jpg“It’s a lifeblood of the international scouting department and system,” Scialabba said. “It’s very important to our whole entire development system. You have Andry Lara (and) Mirton Blanco is an arm that’s coming. There are some pitchers we haven’t talked about much, like Niomar Gomez. There are a number of arms and there are certainly some position players coming. That’s an important area of player procurement in this system and it continues to be across baseball. Scouting is challenging there. I feel for a lot of players that had to stay in the hotel all year but are on their way home (for the holidays).”

Latin scouts work diligently on the ground in Venezuela, communicating and looking for top prospects that they believe will fit into the Nats system, a process coordinated by vice president and assistant general manager of international operations Johnny DiPuglia.

“Johnny and his group do a great job. Dominican area supervisor Modesto Ulloa and Latin America scouting director Fausto Severino, Venezulean scouting supervisor German Robles - a group to a man, they all work extremely hard,” Scialabba said. “They’re passionate about what they do. It’s a testament to Johnny and Mike Rizzo investing, and the owners investing, in that area.

“We feel like we have a great staff down there, but also within our system, we are set up with a number of Latin American coaches ... that help these players along the way. We are all there for them during the entire process. It’s an organizational effort and we are proud of that.”

Nearly 400 players born in Venezuela have played, or are currently active, in Major League Baseball.

A few of the more famous Venezuelan players that played for the Nationals in recent years include World Series champions Asdrúbal Cabrera and Gerardo Parra. In the last 10 seasons, the Nats have employed the likes of Wilson Ramos, Jesús Flores, Sandy León, Jose Lobaton, Adrián Sanchez and Victor Garate, all hailing from Venezuela. The first Venezuelan player ever to play in the major leagues was pitcher Alejandro Carrasquel, who made his debut for the American League’s Washington Senators on April 23, 1939.

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