Twins Are International Players

25 Oct

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“We want to be aggressive. We want to get good players internationally.”

Those are the words of Twins General Manager Bill Smith in an interview with TwinsCentric last week. Smith agreed to an interview with TwinsCentric for an appendix to the Offseason GM Handbook, which is currently available at In a 30-minute, 14-page transcribed interview, he revealed several details about offseason planning and the Twins future, including:

  • That Smith is very comfortable going into spring training without Joe Mauer signed to a long-term extension, provided he feels like Mauer would like to stay long-term.  Nick Nelson talks more about this at
  • The Twins finished their organizational meetings in Ft. Myers last week, and if you think the 137 page TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook is full of information on the Twins offseason, imagine how much information that Twins themselves have. John Bonnes discusses this even more at   

(Just an quick point for those of you who have already purchased the pdf of the Handbook: we are sending out the new version with the appendix attached. And for those of you who have received the free one-third book, we’re sending you a new version too, with a subset of the interview included. That’s also the version available at right now as a FREE download.)

It has been a tremendous year for the Twins as it relates to international signings. First, the Twins signed 16 year old German Max Kepler, generally considered the top player to come out of Europe, arguably ever, to an $800,000 signing bonus. Secondly, the Twins spent another $750,000 on Jorge Polanco, a 16 year old shortstop from the Dominican Republic. Finally, during the final week of the regular season, the Twins were able to sign the top player from the Dominican Republic, Miguel Angel Sano, to a $3.15 million bonus. The 16 year old SS is already 6-3 and over 200 pounds and frequently compared to the likes of Hanley Ramirez, or even Alex Rodriguez.

“We have tried to become more aggressive internationally. It has been a ten-year initiative. There’s a lot you have to build up. You have to build up your staff. You have to get your staff ready to be making evaluations. We have worked very hard to get more aggressive internationally And this was a big year for us.”

But how does a team become more competitive scouting, specifically internationally? The first step? According to Smith, “ownership has been wonderfully supportive of these efforts, and being more competitive in the international market.”  

The owners have to give approval to spend more money on scouts, facilities, equipments, camps and more. There has to be patience. Ten years makes a lot of sense. The Twins now have a presence all over the globe. As we know, the Twins have strong ties in Australia. A look at the GCL Twins roster showed players from the United States, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Curacao, Russia, Czech Republic, France, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia. The Twins also have players in the organization from Aruba, Brazil, Canada, The Netherlands, Saint Maarten and South Africa.

In January, 2007, I have a Q&A with Mike Radcliff, the Twins Director of Player Personnel (he was the Twins Director of Scouting at the time). I asked if there were any untapped areas that the Twins were looking at. He said, “The untapped market many teams are looking at is China. With the next Olympic Games in Beijing, the development of the game is going to progress rapidly in that country. We are establishing ourselves now in preparation for a future plethora of talent in China.”

Signing top talent will require a lot of work, and potentially a lot of dollars. “If we can find them cheap, we’ll find them cheap, but we want to get good players on the international market.”

The signings of Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano are big for the Twins now, and could prove to be even bigger in years to come. In signing this type of talent, the Twins have done several things that can have long-term ramifications:

1.)    Player Acquisitions – Obviously the key to player development is signing good players.

2.)    Credibility – Signing top talent in various markets is noticed by future top players and their agents. Hopefully these signings can lead to more signings of top players in international markets.

3.)    Fan Perception – Although the Twins will never (and should never) be in the running for the top free agents at the major league level, Twins fans should appreciate the organization’s willingness to spend significant money in player acquisitions in this market.

If you have any feedback, comments, opinions or suggestions, please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.


10 Responses to “Twins Are International Players”

  1. doofus October 26, 2009 at 7:08 am #

    I thought Blylevin was the best player to come over from Europe. being called better than a player who won 287 games and was 3rd all time in strikeouts at the time he retired and top 10 in shut outs all time is some big shoes to fill.

  2. roger October 26, 2009 at 7:52 am #

    They probably don’t consider Blylevin as European because he moved to Canada with his family when he was very young and grew up in Southern California. So Bert had the advantage of playing baseball here compared with kids like Alexander Smit who signed then moved here to play ball.

  3. Seth October 26, 2009 at 8:37 am #

    Exactly… Blyleven grew up in California.

  4. peterb18 October 26, 2009 at 9:45 am #

    Continue to mildly disagree with your analysis on signing top free agents. Because of the wealth of the family they can step up to the plate occasionally when it would bring the team over the top. This family gets way too many breaks from the media——not the general public, or the casual fan. In essence, I think baseball should have a salary cap, then you would have a fair playing field. A salary cap would let the best organizations win in the end. Until then—ownership must tap into top free agents to win a world series. That’s the way baseball is today!

  5. TT October 26, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    “Because of the wealth of the family they can step up to the plate occasionally”

    I don’t know why. There are certainly better and more important charities for them to give money to than prividing Twins fans the short-lived rush of winning the World Series again. The Twins are a business and they are successful, in part, because the Pohlads treat it like a business and let the baseball people run the show.

    “I think baseball should have a salary cap, then you would have a fair playing field”

    Baseball is a competitive business, what does “fair” have to do with it? As should be clear from this article, salary is only one factor in the competition. Unlike football and basketball, successful baseball teams are usually the ones that do the best job of developing their own talent. A player salary cap, without caps on all a team’s other expenses, would just leave lower revenue teams at an even larger disadvantage, unable to retain the best talent they develop.

  6. peterb18 October 26, 2009 at 12:58 pm #


    I disagree—some successful baseball franchises are rich families that spend extra money like the Angels ownership!
    With a salary cap then the Twins would even be more successful because then the best organizations will usually be on top. Look at the city of Pittsburg: the Penguins and Steelers are on top(salary cap sports): the Pirates wallow in the depths—-I know they are partly to blame!
    I agree with you in general about business—-where the free-market prevails, but baseball(to me) is a different situation. In relation to charities—what about the seniors and nursing home people who live & die with the twins. I enjoy this “hot stove” league stuff, but you can only go so far with a good organization–under today’s system if you want to win a World Series then you must dip into the free agent market for a marquee player occasionally!

  7. Seth October 26, 2009 at 1:02 pm #

    I’m with TT on this one… what the Pohlad family is worth should have nothing to do with how much they spend on the team. As I’ve said before many times, they didn’t become or stay rich by making dumb business decisions.

    I don’t think signing the most expensive free agents every year guarantees anything.

  8. peterb18 October 26, 2009 at 1:32 pm #

    The key word is “occasionaly” dip into the market for a marquee player to go over the top! This organizaton is way too tight fisted. They just recently let a championship team get away for practically nothing! I think sport organizations should be run a little diffently. I ,also, think the average baseball fan would be with me on this one! If your goal is not to win a World Series then sell the team! Most fans are not like us that follow the minors,etc.

  9. TT October 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    “relation to charities—what about the seniors and nursing home people who live & die with the twins.”

    I doubt a single fan lost their life as a result of the Twins being swept by the Yankees.

    “This organizaton is way too tight fisted. ”

    No, its not. The Twins organization spends the money it has extremely well. The Pohlad family may be “tight-fisted” or they may simply have different priorities for their money. The fact is the Twins have been a low-income franchise that has been highly competitive.

    “some successful baseball franchises are rich families that spend extra money like the Angels ownership!”

    Moreno took over the franchise in 2003, the year after the Angels won their first world series. They haven’t won one since. While Moreno has been owner, they have been in the playoffs five times compared to the Twins four times. The average age of their players this year was a full two years older than the Twins. So they are going to have to spend more money than the Twins just to keep up.

  10. TyBub75 October 27, 2009 at 3:23 am #

    Hi Seth,

    I just read your article on the StarTribune website, and I have a question. How come a guy that you think will be added to the 40, is not mentioned in your prospect top 50? Most players don’t even get to that point. Thank you.
    Ty Hamell

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