International signings have become a major part of today's sports business. Just look at teams like the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox. What do these teams have in common? They've shelled out mega-bucks to each international players off-shore teams JUST for the chance to negotiate a contract to bring the player to America.
Hideki Matsui was offered a three-year, $21 million contract to sign with the Yankees. Matsui was a free-agent in Japan, so the evil empire did not need to pay his former team, the Yomuiri Giants, for the rights to negotiate with "Godzilla".
The Seattle Mariners offered the Orix Blue Wave $13 million just for the RIGHTS to talk to Ichiro Suzuki. How much more did the Mariners spend on Ichiro? They offered him a three-year, $16 million contract, to play for the North West ball club.
The Red Sox invested over $102 million in Daisuke Matsuzaka, including $51.1 million for the rights to negotiate with Dice-K to make the switch to America.
Though the HBD international signings do not have as much impact as the aforementioned players did on their respective teams, international signings still do play a key element in the progression of a ballclub from good to great. Throughout the season, we will be visiting these first year prospects and find out how their brand new career is unfolding.
OSVALDO CEDENO (P) New York Metros: Now known as the $20 million kid, the New York Metros opened their wallets for 19 year-old pitching prospect Osvaldo Cedeno, out of the Dominican Republic.
Son of former big leaguer, Roger Cedeno, Osvaldo was one of the most sought-after International free agents in this early season. Boasting a five pitch repetoire, Cedeno had many teams willing to use their entire international budget to land the young man.
"The day I knew that my son had big league potential was when he was five years old," Roger Cedeno reminissed. "We were having a catch in our back yard, and he threw a ball right into my 'private area'. I couldn't walk for days... after I woke up from my coma, I knew he had potential."
The now grown-up Cedeno fielded many offers and calls from prospective organizations, but one team stood out.
After the New York Metros came out the highest bidder, New York GM "njcomet" felt he needed to start Cedeno's progress slowly, assigning him to his Low-A ballclub.
"With a pitcher that could be the next Fred Allensworth, we, as an organization, felt we needed to start Cedeno off slow, " njcomet asessed. "Nothing is more damaging to a teenage prospect than starting him at too high of a level. That could shatter his confidence which, in turn, could ruin his career even before it starts."
It seems that Cedeno has other ideas. In Cedeno's first professional appearance, the youngster dominated the Hartford Posse, earning the victory in seven innings, giving up only five hits, and one earned run ( on a "welcome to professional baseball" solo shot by 2B Eddie Walker), while striking out eight. In fact, Cedeno struck out the very first batter he faced in LF Will Tanner. Not a bad start!
In his second start of his young career, Cedeno continued his domation, this time, at the expense of the Dover Destroyers. He held the Destroyers to four hits over seven strong innings, while striking out five.
While the New York organization was pleased with Cedeno's first two starts, they also knew that reality would eventually settle in, and Cedeno would return to earth. Cleveland would be the team to bring Cedeno back to reality. In that game, Cedeno gave up ten hits and five earned runs in six innings.
Over the next two games, Cedeno would give up two and three earned runs respectively
If you take away the burp he had against the Red Sox, Cedeno sported a 2.00 ERA in the Low A level, prompting the New York brass to give him a promotion to High A ball.
Though not the start that Cedeno had hoped for, he did put up a respectable performance, giving up three earned runs in 5.2 innings of work.
"Cedeno is making good progress," njcomet commented. "He's really starting to come into his own."
When asked what Cedeno needs to do to continue to make progress, njcomet joked, "he needs to get learn to bat so we can use him off the bench! If he learned to bat, he'd be the most feared pitcher in the game."
"In all reality, Cedeno is on a great pace as he is. If we can develop his mental game along with his velocity, he will be an unstoppable force."
If Cedeno continues to progress at the pace he currently is, don't be surprised if you see the youngster in the big leagues at age 21.
If this is the case, then his dad will really have to watch his 'private area'.