CARTAGENA, Colombia -- Julio Teheran's Wednesday morning began the same way it has every day this offseason.The Braves pitcher was on the mound at Estadio 11 de Noviembre a few hours after dawn, just early enough to avoid the scorching sun to get his work in.Marlins Minor League pitcher Tayron
CARTAGENA, Colombia -- Julio Teheran's Wednesday morning began the same way it has every day this offseason.
The Braves pitcher was on the mound at Estadio 11 de Noviembre a few hours after dawn, just early enough to avoid the scorching sun to get his work in.
Marlins Minor League pitcher Tayron Guerrero stepped on the mound next. It was his bullpen day, too.
"I'm here to work," Guerrero said. "This is a big Spring Training for me, and I want to show up ready. That's why we are here."
The two Colombian pitchers with something to prove also managed to fashion themselves as examples to follow this week. Watching the duo workout Wednesday were the 51 prospects in town for Major League Baseball's showcase for prospects from Venezuela.
"I think it's important to show them that dreams can come true with hard work," Teheran said. "To be selected to participate in this event is a big honor. I know I didn't have this type of thing when I was growing up, so I hope they take advantage of the opportunity."
The showcase concluded Wednesday with batting practice and two games. The event began Tuesday with a timed 60-yard run followed by infield and outfield practice. The prospects also took several rounds of batting practice and played one game on the first day of the event.
The top prospects from this week's showcase and the showcase for Venezuelan teens last November in Aruba will participate in MLB's International Prospect Showcase along with the top teens from places like Brazil, Curacao, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Panama next month in the Dominican Republic.
The prospect events were held in Aruba and Colombia because of the economic crisis and political unrest in Venezuela.
It was a busy morning of baseball. After completing their daily routine, Teheran and Guerrero addressed the prospects as a group and then followed up with a few one-on-one chats. The pitchers talked about baseball, but also about life.
Teheran, 26, is a two-time All-Star but coming off of an up-and-down season in Atlanta. Guerrero, 27, who last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2016 with the Padres, could pitch out of the bullpen for the Marlins, but needs to show improved command.
"My message to them is to keep working hard," Guerrero said. "I told them the key is to play without pressure and play the game they way they have always played it. Have fun in this game and keep on dreaming. It's important they listen to the coaches and trainers and believe in themselves. They are here for a reason."
If the prospects sign, when they sign and how much money they will earn is to be determined. The international market continues to take shape, and baseball's decision-makers are still evaluating this year's Venezuelan class.
"I think some people believe that this year's class is one of the lighter classes and next year will be even better," one National League scout said. "Maybe these guys don't have the 'wow factor' we have seen in the past, but there is talent in Venezuela, just like every year and there are going to be a lot of kids sign from there. I can see a few sleepers in this year's class."
Here's what we know: The Blue Jays, Brewers, D-backs, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox, Rockies, Tigers and Yankees are expected to be aggressive on the international market when the signing period starts July 2. The Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Royals, teams that will no longer be in the penalty, are also expected to be very active on the market.
The A's, Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Padres, Reds, and White Sox are in the maximum penalty and cannot sign players for more than $300,000 during the upcoming period.
It's uncertain how many Venezuelan teens will sign, but it's worth noting that almost 400 prospects from the country have signed during the current international signing period that started last July. What's more, there were 261 prospects from the country that signed during the previous signing period.
Among the Venezuelan teens that stood out this week in Colombia were catchers Diego Cartaya and Juan Perez, infielders Eduardo Garcia and Miguel Droz, along with outfielders Misael Urbina and Jesus Bolivar. Other Venezuelan prospects could garner more attention in the months leading up to the start of the international signing period or even after the period starts.
There's a reason to be patient with the Venezuelan prospects.
"These guys are still developing, and you don't know who they will be in the future, but you have to let them grow," one American League international scouting director said. "Remember, Ronald Acuna signed out of Venezuela for like $90,000, and there were some questions with him. Look at him now. We are all looking for our own Acuna."