Nats Hire New Point Man For Dominican
The Washington Nationals hired Johnny DiPuglia as their new Latin American operations director on Wednesday, charging him with the substantial task of rebuilding the team's international scouting system.
DiPuglia's hiring, first reported by SI.com, represents a small coup for General Manager Mike Rizzo, according to sources familiar with Latin American scouting. DiPuglia, who coordinated Latin American scouting for the Boston Red Sox, is well respected within international baseball circles, and has been dealing with Dominican-based scouting since 1995.
The Nationals are only now beginning to recover from the scandal that decimated their international operations. The team learned in February that prospect Esmailyn Gonzalez -- their highest-profile Latin America prospect, issued a $1.4-million signing bonus -- was in fact four years older than they believed. His real name: Carlos Alvarez.
As a part of the fallout from that revelation and a related federal investigation into Latin American scouting practices, Jim Bowden resigned as general manager and Washington relocated its Dominican scouting academy to temporary headquarters.
After meeting with the Lerner family and Nationals President Stan Kasten, DiPuglia was convinced that the team was again serious about spending money to sign top-rate international prospects.
The Nationals, according to a source, are also close to finalizing a location for their academy in the Dominican, in Boca Chica.
DiPuglia will be responsible for much that follows. He'll hire scouting staffers who will canvass Colombia, Curacao, Venezuela, Nicaragua and perhaps Mexico. He'll also hire a field staff for the Nationals' team in the Dominican Summer League, which will operate from the new Boca Chica academy.
The hiring of DiPuglia, 46, has not yet been made official, but comes in the same week that the Nationals added an assistant general manager and a new scouting director to their front office.
DiPuglia, who is bilingual, started as an area scout for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1990. But in 1995, he was given responsibilities for Latin America. Ever since, he has lived in Miami.
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