Signing one stud pitcher does not make a solidly scouted DSL team.
The best OPS on the A's DSL team is Rojas at 897. He is #14 in the DSL and we have no other hitter in the top 100. The best pitcher ERA is Merestil at 1.73 good for #19 in the DSL with no other pitcher in the top 100. Merestil is around 50th in K.
I know the A's have come out and said they are going to be more aggressive down there and they did spend a lot of money on one guy last year, but 2 players in the top 200? I don't know if they need to fire some scouts down there or if they have just been too cheap for too long, but that's not going to cut it.
Although they seem to be not getting enough high quality prospects out of the DSL, there are a ton of ex-DSL players on the ARZ rookie and A- Vancouver teams so its at least possible they had a nice crop graduate out of the DSL the last fews years leaving it bare. There is not many names creating much buzz and there has been no significant DSL player from the A's system play well for the A's in many, many years. (Casilla's best year has been a 3.93 ERA when he had a 1.59 whip.)
I don't know what it costs to run a team in South America, but I think its time for the A's to start up a team in the Venezuelan summer league. There seems to be some good talent coming out of there. They could start trying a new player acquisition philosophy, with different scouting strategy's, and do it from the ground up.
For reference there are about 40 ML players from Venezuela with only 7 teams in the VSL or 5.7 created per team. The 75 players from the Dominican have 33 teams helping produce them, or 2.27 players created per team. A dollar spent in the VSL could be equal to 2 1/2 dollars spent in the DSL. That's a huge market inefficacy. The A's did sign several Venezuelan IFAs this year so they are at least aware that is a market needing tapping.
Note: All players in the ML born from other country s doesn't mean they all came from a minor-league system in that country, so the numbers will be off, but most did play there. Also I would need to do some more research to see if the quality of players, say All-Stars vrs Non-All Stars, would be highly significant between the two.
I also think some sort of partnership with a minor league system is Asia (Japan especially) would be a good use of resources and put them well ahead of most other teams in that department. Once other teams caught on (and they would) the goal would be to start an Asian Summer League with the other five West Coast teams. Clearly the future of any small-market team is the minor leagues. There is no reason the A's should be limiting themselves to just the draft and one high priced Int FA signing a year, in just one league. There are 47 ML players from Japan/Taiwan/South-Korea/Australia. I'm sure there could be another 100 Japanese players if 1)all the Japanese players wanted to play in the U.S. and 2) the Japanese teams didn't control them. That market could be worth more in total ML players than the DSL and VSL combined. If the A's were to start now they would get the first early returns and be in a position to reap the continued rewards from the new Asian Summer League.
1) There is something wrong with the Dominican system and it may need to be blown up with radical new strategy's and money.
2) The A's need to start a team in the Venezuelan Summer league to take advantage of the 5.7 players created per team.
3) The A's need to form a partnership with a team based in Asia, with recruiting from South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Australia, to take advantage of and gain the early rights to, the 50-150 possible ML players that could come from that region with the creation of an Asian Summer League.
4) We are a low-revenue team and these things cost money. I'm going to put each option as costing the A's 2 1/2 to 5 million extra a year with the consequence that it will directly come out of the yearly payroll. The real cost could be much less when you factor in the A's will recoup those costs and much much more in 5 years with cheap ML salary's if things worked out as planned. The money has to come from somewhere to start out though. So imagine the A's this year with a payroll 7.5-15 million less than it is now if you choose all options. This is a harsh reality for a small revenue team, regardless of it being a good idea or not.