O’s new head of international scouting on staffing, signing talent and more

In his first interview with Orioles reporters, Koby Perez, the club’s new senior director of international scouting, discussed building a staff and building relationships that will lead to the addition of key young amateur talent from around the world.

Under the current system in place, all teams get a similar amount to spend via their bonus pool. So that can make it challenging for a team to set itself apart, as they can’t outspend the competition in a significant way. For the signing period that began last July 2, teams began with pool amounts ranging between approximately $5 million and $6 million. Teams can then add up to 75 percent of their initial pool in trades.

Perez said long-term relationships and connections help when all teams have similar dollars to spend.

“Fortunately for us, being that the pools are similar, we should be able to compete with even the bigger-market teams in this market,” Perez said during a conference call this afternoon. “The most important thing for me is identifying guys early. When you can identify the guy as early as you can and get to know him and his family and his makeup, of course, the ability being the first thing. But once your scouts and staff identify who they are, the sooner you identify, the sooner you can make better decisions.”

Elias@Presser-sidebar.jpgPerez, 40, joins the Orioles after five seasons with the Cleveland Indians, the last three as the club’s director of Latin American scouting. Perez worked also for the Phillies and Cardinals. In St. Louis, he was on the same staff with Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias.

In Baltimore, he takes over a situation in which the Orioles still may have around $6 million remaining in their current bonus pool. That money can be spent on players through next June 15. But most of the top players are long gone. The Orioles lost out on efforts to land Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gastón.

“This market in international is very fluid and a lot of things change,” Perez said as he talked about the club’s remaining pool. “So, you know, you have countries where players pop up unexpectedly, such as Cuba. We have what we call the late bloomer, who comes along a little bit later in the signing class. Having the money puts us in a great spot to be frontrunners for those types of guys.

“We are going to do the best we can with the timing of it. Mike has made me aware that he is there for us and this department to show face in the Dominican Republic and make trips down there as necessary. Things like that go a long way in Latin America when your general manager is going down there. And he did some international work as well, so they know the face and name, and it puts us in a good spot moving forward.”

While the club certainly needs to add some international scouts, and plans to do so, Perez emphasized that getting the right people is more important than pushing to quickly fill out his staff.

“What we’re going to do is, probably, take our time, just because we want to make sure we hire the right people,” he said. “We want to hire qualified people that can be here with us a long time. And we don’t want to rush into any decisions. Fortunately, Calvin (Maduro) and his staff so far have done a decent job of knowing the names. That, along with the list I bring and the players I already know, we’ll be able to hit the ground running and take our time as far as making sure we put the right people in place.”

Perez would not be pinned down as to how many people he’ll have on his staff.

“The market is so fluid and there are constant rule changes and different things that may be in place in the future. I think we’re going to play it by ear with that,” he said. “We’ll go day-to-day in working with Mike and the staff that we currently have. I’m sure that we’ll add to it. But as information comes along for the future, we’ll know exactly in which direction we’re going to go there.”

Perez did not express a preference for how his bonus pool should be spent. Some in the industry believe it’s better to sign just a few players to larger bonuses, while others feel it’s better to spread the money around and get quality out of quantity.

“I think it is going to vary on the class and players available,” said Perez. “Like in any other system, whether it’s the draft, sometimes it’s top heavy and sometimes a little lighter. That can vary on the situation and class of players out there. Really no preference. It’s just making best use of our resources.”

But patience is always important on the international front. A player signed at 16 can take many years to make it all the way through short-season ball in the Dominican, through the full-season affiliates and on to helping the big league club. If they ever make it that far.

“The players we typically sign are very, very young and they take some time to develop,” Perez said. “The important thing is, the way things work, we want to try and give our organization a chance to have (trade) assets. Even if they are not in the major leagues immediately or the short term, we are able to give Mike and our staff some assets to help make our big league club better.

“We’ve worked together in the past and I trust him (Elias). I know he will lead this organization to a good spot. Just very excited to be part of the Orioles organization,” said Perez.

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