As Major League Baseball teams have seen the amount of money that they can spend on international free agents slashed under the new collective bargaining agreement, events like the International Prospects Showcase have become even more vital for scouting and evaluation.
Not that teams were lazy in what they were doing before, but the limitations make it so that you have a smaller window of opportunity to hit. If teams do hit, because they aren't spending an exorbitant amount of money, the investment looks like a bargain.
As the event gets underway, here is all of the information that you need to know in order to get a better feel for what to expect.
Dates: January 16 and 17 in the Dominican Republic
What is the International Prospect Showcase?
Major League Baseball invests time and resources into making it easy and convenient for teams and scouts to get a look at the top international prospects by giving them a one-stop shop to look at the key players who will make up the crop of free agents eligible to sign on July 2.
According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, more than 150 prospects will be taking part in the three showcase events. The week-long festivities kicked off on Wednesday and will continue through next Tuesday.
It brings scouts and players together in a forum that allows each side to figure out the other. A lot of things will change between now and July, but this is a great way for teams to get more familiar with a player that they might have their eye on.
Why Is This Event a Big Deal?
Under the terms of the new CBA that was agreed upon prior to the start of the 2012 season, teams are only allowed to spend $2.9 million this season on the international free-agent market without incurring penalties.
That drastically alters the way that teams do business, similar to the way that teams have to change their approach in June's draft now that they only have so much money to spend.
To illustrate how much the spending limit has changed the game, Minnesota Twins prospect Miguel Sano signed out of the Dominican Republic for $3.15 million in 2009.
The changes make it so that teams can't just throw money at a problem to add impact talent. Gone are the days when the Texas Rangers can spend more than $10 million to keep the international talent flowing.
This event gives teams the chance to decide what portion of their bonus pool they want to set aside to sign a player in July, as well as talk to the player's family in order to determine what it will take to get him signed.