Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Diamonds in the Rough: Two Foreign Draftees with Intriguing Backgrounds

During the MLB Draft, those who have played against international competition for Team USA have always been held in high regard. These platers are the ones considered to have great pedigree and a history of success, whether it be for the 18U Team (Mickey Moniak, Blake Rutherford, Forrest Whitley) or the Collegiate National Team (Corey Ray, A.J. Puk). Usually in the draft, the majority of the players hail from the United States, with a few scattered from Puerto Rico and Canada. There have been a few scattered players that were born in other nations as well and moved to the States for high school ball, but rarely, if at all, have they represented their home countries in global competition. In this year's draft, two players were selected with international tournament experience in a different country, Lyle Lin of Taiwan and Stjin van der Meer of the Netherlands.

Lyle Lin (Taiwan), Seattle Mariners
Lin, 2011 with Chinese Taipei/
Lin, a 6'2'' 200 pound catcher, was selected as a 16th rounder out of Junipero Serra Catholic High School in Southern California. Ranked as one of the top prep catchers in SoCal after moving stateside before his sophomore year, the Arizona State commit is a sold defensive catcher who has great bat speed to boot. A true two way catcher headed to ASU, Lin has drawn comparisons to former big-leaguer Paul Lo Duca. He is not expected to sign with the Mariners this year and will likely re-enter 3 years from now after some development in college, hopefully with a higher draft position. Back in 2011, Lin caught and batted 6th for the Chinese Taipei team that was the runner-up in the Pony World Series to Laredo, Texas. In the championship game, in which Chinese Taipei lost 10-9 despite a rally and runners in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh, Lin went 1-3 with a line drive single to left and reached twice on errors. Below is a video from Prospect Pipeline of his workout for the Area Code showcase.

SS Stijn van der Meer (the Netherlands), Houston Astros
van der Meer on Team Nederland, Honkballsite
Drafted out of Lamar University in the 34th round, van der Meer has the case to be the most interesting prospect in the entire draft class. Not only does he have the best, most exotic, and most consonant-excessive name, he also has the most unique background. Growing up in the Netherlands, which is not the most prospect-rich nation, van der Meer played baseball and was one of the top offensive producers in European tournaments, winning multiple awards along the way. Van der Meer was the MVP of the 2011 European Junior Championship, and the same year rated the #1 youth player in the nation. In 2012, at the age of just 19, he played in Netherlands top league, the Honkbal Hoofdklasse, against players 10-20 years older. (Some players get paid, some don't, which helped him retain NCAA eligibility.) He finished one shy for the league leader in hits, and started the All-Star Game as well. Following that season, he enrolled in college in the U.S, playing community college ball before transferring to Lamar, posting similar numbers as he did back home, usually with a batting average around .350 but with limited power. Every summer following college ball, he would return to his homeland and play Honkbal, and his gaudy stats are here on Baseball Reference. His career BB/K ratio is 38/20, and in college it is 57/28, so expect a patient hitter who will make contact as well. Also, because the Hoofdklasse is recognized as a major baseball organization, it is part of the baseball simulation game, OOTP 17, and with accurate rosters, the lanky shortstop even has his own profile! As seen on the OOTP Elite, Stijn is rated a 40 CON/25 POW, which is apparently good for a Honkbaler but non-prospect status for minor leaguers. But even if his incredible BB/K ratio doesn't hold up in pro ball, he can still strut his 4/1 consonant-to-vowel ratio in his first name, and as a Honkbaler named Stijn who played in a league called Hoofdklasse with his background, pedigree, and overall story, van der Meer should be a fun follow this summer and hopefully for years to come!

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