CHICAGO -- The White Sox have signed nearly 100 international free agents during the more than eight-year tenure of Marco Paddy, a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn, according to their 2020 media guide.
But the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic changed things slightly for Paddy, who directs the team’s Latin American scouting efforts. The 2020-21 international signing period once set to begin on July 2, 2020, instead will begin on Jan. 15, 2021, at 8 a.m. CT and end at 4 p.m. CT on Dec. 15, 2021.
“With it being moved to January, basically what we’ve been able to do is just stay on the players that we were looking to commit to and make sure that everything is OK,” said Paddy during a conference call on Thursday afternoon. “From the baseball standpoint, the only difference is normally those guys would report to our program in the Dominican at some point during the months of July and August.
“Now, with the situation the way it has been, we haven’t done that. From the baseball standpoint, the long term, next year would have been the first year that they actually played. So, I think timing is still pretty good.”
Norge Carlos Vera, 19, reportedly is part of this White Sox international class by reaching an agreement for an estimated $1.5 million of the team’s $5,348,100 to spend for the 2020-21 international signing period. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez wrote of the deal on Feb. 12, 2020, involving the right-handed hurler, who defected from Cuba, was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball on Jan. 16 and became eligible to sign with a Major League team two weeks later.
Paddy was not asked Thursday about Vera, or outfielder Yoelqui Cespedes -- the younger half-brother of Yoenis and the No. 1 prospect in this international signing period -- who also interests the White Sox. He did speak of his scouting involvement with José Abreu, the 2020 American League Most Valuable Player, and Luis Robert, the future superstar who Paddy has watched in action since Robert was 15 and playing for Cuba at a world tournament in Chihuahua, Mexico.
“I feel very fortunate because it starts at the top with ownership and [White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf], and then it goes to [executive vice president] Kenny [Williams] and [general manager] Rick [Hahn],” Paddy said. “They have given me the support and resources and they have allowed me to shape the operation in the way I thought best, obviously using the guidelines and keeping in mind the needs of the organization.
“They've created a culture here and developed a culture here where there's a tremendous amount of cooperation from every department. Somewhere along the line, whether it was Luis or José or any other player we signed, it's a combination of cooperation from everyone in Chicago. Whether you're located in Chicago or Arizona, these guys contribute and make it easier. We all feel fortunate that these guys are playing for us, and it's something we can be proud [of].”
Due to the pandemic, Paddy and his crew have become more information based. They have the time to sit back and review their database of players instead of “running everywhere and we had to make sure we didn’t miss this game here or that game there,” when things were normal per Paddy.
“We’ve turned this thing into an advantage for us, and now we’re looking more at the videos and trying to understand the progress of a player from point A to point B,” Paddy said. “We just see the different stages.
“So we have a feel for who the better players are in the market. Even though we have not seen them, I don’t think it hurts because these guys are still in the developmental stages before they’re signed.”