Although the MLB draft receives more media coverage, international free agent signings have increasingly become a more glamorized and integral part of young player development in baseball. Much like bygone days of exploration, major league teams have worked on expanding their presence in countries across the globe in the hopes of being able to sign the next great player. In recent years the Detroit Tigers have invested heavily in Venezuela, with their profile in that country becoming even more prominent since they acquired countryman and MLB superstar Miguel Cabrera. One of the Tigers’ most recent Venezuelan signees is outfielder Danry Vasquez, a prospect for whom the Tigers have the highest of hopes.
In 2010 the Tigers lavished a $1.2 million signing bonus on the then 16 year old Vasquez. With international signing rules and restrictions being much more lax, such deals are becoming common as the player development race becomes more competitive. Vasquez is an extremely athletic player who can play all over the outfield but will likely settle into a corner spot as he matures. He already has an excellent arm and projects to become an excellent defensive player as he matures. He throws righty, but hits from the left side, with a swing that can already be described as “sweet.”
Still just 18, Vasquez is already in his second professional season and playing for the Connecticut Tigers in the New York-Penn League. The Tigers aggressively started him in A-ball this year, but wisely ended that experiment when he struggled after 29 games. He has looked much more comfortable and played well during his stint with Connecticut. His steady growth and maturation has only increased the excitement Detroit feels about his future. You can check out his statistics here. Although he is likely at least three or four years away from Detroit, keep this prospect in the back of your mind because if all goes as planned he is going to be a good one and playing in the majors for years.
Danry Vasquez Interview:
How did you first become interested in baseball?: I was playing for about 15 years. When I was three years old my father and my mother brought me to the stadium every day and I was playing with my buddies and my friends over there. I learned a little bit more about the big leagues; the big league players.
Did you have a favorite team or player when you were growing up?: When I was younger, everything I was with was Ken Griffey, Jr. Miguel Cabrera now. I really like him because he’s like my father here; he’s my friend.
Did you play for a baseball academy when you were younger?: Yeah, the thing over there is the little teams in Venezuela and the scouts go to the stadiums and they watch the games [to] see who [are] the good players. They (the academies) showcase for the players.
How did you find out that the Tigers were interested in signing you?: That’s because every time I was playing they were going to the game and watched [how] I played. They [asked] me if I wanted to go practice with them before I signed. They were [always] direct with me. They sent me email that they wanted to be a player with me.
How did you celebrate with your family after you signed your first contract?: We didn’t tell the people that I signed. Just the family [knew and we had] a little barbeque and I celebrated with my family and with my friends. My dad and my mom, they are my life.