Venezuelan Bust, Baseball Boom: Andraes Reiner and Scouting on the New Frontier

By Milton H. Jamail | Go to book overview

5
From Tunapuy
to Guacara:
The Search for the
New El Dorado

Scouting in Venezuela is not easy. The country is slightly larger than Texas with a population of twenty-five million, and the distances between cities are long: a bus ride from Maracaibo to Maturín is more than eighteen hours. Prospects are scattered throughout the country, and finding them requires a great deal of planning and hard work. Although Aristimuño and Cabrera would be able to scout areas near Valencia as well as serving as instructors at the academy, and Andrés himself would be searching for players, it was necessary to hire at least two other scouts: one to cover eastern Venezuela and the other to cover the Caracas metropolitan area. Those scouts, Andrés expected, would give him weekly or monthly reports before he would then make a trip to check out the prospects.

His first choice to cover the vast eastern section of Venezuela was Rafael Cariel.

“I first met Cariel when he was signed for professional baseball at the age of seventeen in the early seventies,” explained Andrés. “I was close to him during his career as a player with Magallanes. He took his profession very seriously, and he is extremely intelligent. He injured his arm, didn’t get to the big leagues, and retired when he was quite young, just twenty-nine, but he was the best defensive catcher that Venezuela had at the time.”

When Cariel, who reached Double-A in the Pirates organization, retired from professional baseball in the late 1970s, he went to work at the University of the Oriente in Cumaná — several hundred miles east of Valencia.

-63-

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