International scouting and work overseas has exploded over the past four to five years in baseball, and each organization is looking for each little advantage they can get over the competition.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have found a nice token in Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor, who travels down to the Dominican Republic to manage a squad each season.
“I think [that it is an advantage] because there is another set of eyes down there,” Treanor said. “I have given names when we talk about acquiring a player. I see a lot of young players down there. I think that it gives us an advantage because we have somebody making recommendations.”
Along with the scouting aspect, Treanor said that a huge goal of his is to take as many of his own down there as he can. He has had Mel Rojas Jr. on his team in 2012 and Stolmy Pimentel the last two winters. In the past, he has had Matt Hague, Chase d’Arnaud, Kyle McPherson, Chris Leroux and Andy Vasquez make the trip down there.
“On the other side of it, I am always trying to get our players down there,” Treanor said. “That also gives us an advantage because our players have a place to go. That is one of the biggest reasons why I started going down there, to place our players.”
In fact, he had a player that he was able to get extra familiar with on his squad last winter, who now he teams with in Indianapolis.
“I was fortunate this year to have [Gustavo] Nunez player for us this year and he developed into our everyday shortstop this winter,” Treanor said. “He was the probably the best shortstop down there defensively. It was good to see that and gave me a better perspective of him.”
Nunez was originally acquired by the Pirates in the 2011 Rule 5 draft, although he missed the entire season with an ankle injury and was then picked up off waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks. His defense was praised prior to the injury, but there were questions about how well he could play at short after returning in 2013. He has played in seven games in the early season, with six starts, off the familiarity with Treanor, so obviously the defense at short isn’t a concern. In those contests, he has picked up two hits and two stolen bases.
Treanor also got a good eye on Wilkin Castillo, who played for him in the playoffs this season. It is no coincidence that he found his way to Treanor’s roster in Indianapolis. Treanor saw him, and the Pirates needed another organizational catcher, so the recommendation was made and the Pirates signed Castillo.
However, Castillo is not the first. The Pirates also signed Radhames Liz this off-season, after Liz played for Treanor. In the past they have also signed Felix Pie, Michael Martinez, Dean Anna, and Wirfin Obispo, among others.
While Treanor said that many manager who make the trek are just looking to make a name for themselves, he has had just the organization in mind with his intentions.
“I think that, in talking to the other American managers, they are going down there for the experience and for the resume,” Treanor said. “I never look at it that way. It is something that benefits the Pirates organization and the adventure of being down there. There are crazy things that go on down there and it is just fun to be a part of.”
However, the work part does not keep Treanor from enjoying his time in the Dominican each winter. He said that the sheer energy in the ballparks are among his favorite parts.
“The culture and being there and being in a different country [is fun],” Treanor said. “The passion that they have and the fans, who have treated me very well down there every place that I have gone. It is really humbling that they welcome somebody down there from here. You get emotionally tied to the people down there and the baseball down there.”
Treanor said that the fans will be on their feet the entire game and show passion throughout. He said that there are bands that travel to the game in the teams colors who play music the entire game. He said that he knows when the game time is getting close just by the noise.
Treanor said that the championship team “took a day to get out of the parking lot and the parade lasted two days.”
With all of the enjoyment and the benefits to the organization, Treanor does not plan on giving his travels up any time soon. To this, the Pirates are also appreciative.