When you think of countries or territories that MLB teams scout for talent, you might think of the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Curacao. But the Boston Red Sox are taking their international scouting to a whole new level – on Thursday, they became the first MLB organization to sign a player from Tibet.
Justin Qiang, a 16-year old catcher, was given a $10,000 bonus by the Sox in July and will begin playing with the team’s instructional league in Fort Myers, Florida next month.
The Red Sox had been watching Qiang for awhile, and he also spent time at one of MLB’s academies in China.
“Our area scout, Louie Lin, had seen him and had him on his follow list for a while. He tipped off Brett Ward, our Pacific Rim supervisor, and the kid had changed positions,” said Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero. “He was recently an infielder. Wardy went over to see him there with Luis and he liked him and liked what he saw.”
Qiang has played for Chinese national teams in several international showcase events, and the Red Sox had a chance to follow his progress at MLB’s baseball academy in Nanjing, China.
“He’s an athletic kid, good size to him, and intelligent,” said Romero. “Ray Chang, who used to play for us in our Minor League system, was running the MLB Academy over there. So we had a good relationship and a good reference there, and it checked a lot of the boxes in terms of athleticism and makeup and intelligence.
“Given the quick adjustment he made to being a catcher, Wardy kind of got to work with the people that ran the academy and we were able to sign him.”
Will Qiang actually make an impact on the Red Sox at the major league level? It’s hard to say – we won’t know the answer to that question for years. But by signing Qiang for a modest bonus, the Red Sox are showing that they won’t look only in only the conventional places to find future talent. And when teams are looking for every advantage they can get, potentially opening a pipeline in an untapped market could give Boston a huge edge going forward.