Rockies' Latin investments paying off
GM O'Dowd cites arrivals of Corpas, Jimenez and Morales
DENVER -- The Rockies may have reached the World Series with one of the smallest payrolls in the Major Leagues, but their drive to the National League pennant has not come without a significant investment in developing their players.
The Rockies have signed hundreds of players and spent millions of dollars, and now there's proof it was all worthwhile.
When Dan O'Dowd took over the Rockies eight years ago and increased the organization's scouting presence in Latin America, he did it counting on the arrival of a Manny Corpas from Panama, an Ubaldo Jimenez from the Dominican Republic and a Franklin Morales from Venezuela.
"We needed to be a lot more aggressive than we had been, and it's taken a long time, but we're just starting to see the by-products now," O'Dowd said recently. "I feel good about what we've got coming."
And the three who have already arrived?
"We wouldn't be here without them," he said. "No chance."
Corpas, the team's closer, has appeared in all seven of the Rockies' postseason games to date, saving all three games of the NL Division Series against Philadelphia and two in the four-game sweep of Arizona in the NL Championship Series. Jimenez has a 1.59 ERA over 11 1/3 innings in two playoff starts. And while Morales has lasted only a total of seven innings with a 5.14 ERA in his two starts, he has kept his team in both games.
O'Dowd wouldn't say how much the Rockies spent on international player development before he was hired or how much he spends now, but he did say that the budget has tripled. The Rockies' only previous homegrown player from another country was Neifi Perez.
"In the market we're in, we have to be cost-effective with every dime we spend," he said. "We knew if we were going to develop players from within, we couldn't do it without a quality Latin American operation."
The Rockies previously shared a Dominican Republic academy with the Diamondbacks, but now run it themselves. The director of South American operations is Rolando Fernandez.
The next name to look for from Colorado's international pipeline is Jonathan Herrera, a shortstop from Venezuela.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.