Saturday, January 1, 2011

Rangers grab another j2 MIF

Rangers signs lefty hitting Venezuelan second baseman Rougned Odor (5.10/155) for 425k. Scouts seem to love his swing. He'll have to hit pretty well to move over to second and given his size that isn't a given. However, Badler's recent post suggests that Odor's speed is fringe plus now so he maybe he can stick at short if his speed translates into ranginess. If that is the case, his arm might limit him to 2b but we'll have to see; there are not enough j2 scouting reports out there this year to triangulate.

Texas has had more success in VZ than in the DR the last 3 years but this is their first signing from there this year. This signing (two second basemen in Triunfel and Odor, and a shortstop in Marte) should finally dispel the "TX is disinterested in the weak j2 market" meme that has been tirelessly repeated by some. (See my j2 preview here and my summary of their 2008 signing class, here and here; for 2009 class, search site for "j2" or "international" or by player name)Texas' "lack of interest" was really a lack of capacity as they had no money during the summer, one last kick in the teeth from the Tom Hicks era. And if you are still doubtful that this was the case, check out the kids that our primary competition within the division have signed this year, Oakland and Seattle. Both teams also have elite scouting departments covering Latin America, and both clubs signed a number of elite players this year.

Anyways, here is a BA's report (paywall) on him:

Odor (pronounced "Oh-Door"), the 16-year-old nephew of Indians high Class A Kinston hitting coach Rouglas Odor, trains with Miguel Nava and has played on Venezuelan youth national teams for years, most recently starring at the World Youth Championship in Taiwan last August. It's hard to find a better pure swing anywhere in Venezuela. It's short, quick and compact. Unlike many Latin American prospects who stand out more in batting practice and showcase environments, Odor separates himself in game situations with his instincts, savvy and approach at the plate. Odor has good plate discipline for his age and shows a willingness to work the count. While Odor's size is a concern for some scouts, others have said he's shown surprising pop for his size and could hit 15-20 home runs per year if he adds strength to his thin frame. Odor doesn't have flashy tools, as he's an average runner with an arm that grades out around average, though it can be wild at times. Odor does have good hands, but many scouts believe he will ultimately end up at second base. Odor might not sign immediately on July 2, but he has drawn strong interest from the Yankees and Blue Jays, while some believe the Reds or the Rangers could also get involved.

Here is a more detailed report on Odor from Badler in early June

Rougned Odor has represented Venezuelan youth national teams for years, including in August when he played in the World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Odor was Venezuela's best player in Taiwan, earning tournament all-star honors after hitting .538/.545/.857, going 15-for-28 with two home runs, a triple, a double, two walks, two strikeouts and five stolen bases in six attempts. Odor, who primarily hit in the three-hole for Venezuela, finished the tournament ranked eighth in OPS and second stolen bases. His four errors split between shortstop and second base were also the third-most in the tournament.

Odor has solid all-around tools, but he stands out more in game situations than in workouts. At around 5-foot-10, Odor doesn't have great size, but his clean lefthanded swing and advanced feel for hitting have earned rave reviews. He has shown the ability to hit good pitching, reportedly performing well against Yankees farmhands in an extended spring training game in early May. He doesn't project as a power hitter, but he has shown surprising pop for his size and the ability to drive the ball, with some scouts saying he could have average power in time. Odor is an average runner who might have to move to second base, but he can handle himself at the position for now with good hands, average range and a solid although sometimes erratic arm. The Yankees appear to have some interest in Odor, while the Phillies and Blue Jays (general manager Alex Anthopoulos has reportedly seen Odor) could also get involved.

Here is Badler summarizing Odor's performance in the annul PG showcase in Jupiter Fl in June. Sardinas and Gary Sanchez were there last year, and only a handful of polished j2 eligible players get invited each year. Glassney and Rode wrote a nice article on the US showcase circuit (featuring some international players, contingents). A j2 player's ability to compete in these elite showcases, can go a long way in getting them an elite bonus, but they have likely already competed on junior national teams for years (like Sardinas and Profar for example) which allow scouts to see them against elite competition and likely secure their invitations to stateside showcases to begin with:

The third player, shortstop Rougned Odor, was in Tampa this weekend at the Perfect Game National Showcase inside the Rays' home stadium. Odor, 16, had a solid showing at the event playing against some of the top 17-year-olds eligible for next year's daft. Odor showed a fundamentally sound swing, a good approach at the plate with the ability to work the count. He played solid defense, though some scouts believe he will end up moving to second base.

If Odor is as advanced at the plate as some of these profiles indicate, he should make his debut stateside with AZL club. I would think the Triunfel and Marte would start of in the DSL but we'll hear more about them all in spring training if Cole and or Parksie cover minor league camp again this year. Mike Daly confirms that is the plan for the kid (h/t Ming).

Found this interview with Odor in La Verdad.

Looks like Texas stole Miguel Nava from the Diamondbacks. He was a Venezuelan scout for them from 2003 to at least 2008. Not sure when he came on board officially, maybe this year? Manny Batista seems to be the senior scout in Venezuela for Texas, since at least 2005. Texas has had a very good presence in Venezuela the last 5 years despite not having an academy there.

Actually, it looks like Nava went into business for himself this year, as he is actually the agent for Odor. Here are three vids from Nava's feed showing Odor at the PG showcase.

WOW! Maybe Nava actually got fired:
Nava, who currently works for the Diamondbacks, is also under investigation for alleged bonus skimming. (9/09)

Here is an article on Nava and his relation with prized prospect Carlos Gonzalez. Like Gonzalez, it looks like Odor spent at least 4 months in Tampa training with Nava. Interesting.

Here is a Perfect Game (paywall) profile of the kind from the PG showcase; they gave him their highest rating (10) for Division I kids, which is to say, could be a high draft pick (if he was a HS kid, and he was only 16 at the time). His ~6.8 60 times from that showcase have improved by some accounts to ~6.6:

Rougned Odor is a free agent MIF/3B with a 5-10 165 lb. frame from Venezuela. Left handed hitter, straight stance, good balance, busy hands, simple swing approach, good bat speed, smooth extension out front, line drive plane, squares it up well, hard contact, gap power. Smooth and easy infield actions, quick first step, works through the ball well, charges aggressively, good arm strength with carry, footwork still developing. Nice looking young athlete with skills.

This was Luis Sardinas' profile from the same event in 2009, he was rated a 9.5 on their scale. Coincidentally, Sardinas was timed in the ~6.8 range at one point but later was said to be running ~6.6:

Luis Sardinas is a free agent SS with a 6'0', 150 lb. frame from Puerto Ordan, Venezuela who attends Zulai HS. Very lean, loose build. Very easy infield actions, glides effortlessly, very loose sure hands, quick release charging, arm strength presently short. Switch-hitter, busy load, run and slash swing, short to ball, good extension out front, handles the bat head, quick out of box, battled hard vs. Jackson Taillon.


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