Sometimes that's meant aggressively pursuing over-slot draftees. Sometimes it's signing the top young talent in Latin America. And sometimes, as evidenced by a pair of Red Sox Minor Leaguers on the Chinese Taipei provisional World Baseball Classic roster, it means increasing efforts to find players in places like the Far East.
"It's definitely become a bigger area for potential impact, as we search every corner of the globe for talent," said Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen. "We usually draft at the back end, which is a good thing, so we have to be more creative. [Vice president of international scouting] Craig Shipley oversees all of that. He does a lot of the groundwork over there."
Shipley's work helped bring both outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin and second baseman/outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang into the organization. Neither is a stranger to international competition. Both were on the Olympic team in Beijing and played regularly. Lin hit .269 (7-for-26) with one homer, a stolen base and four RBIs. Chiang hit .290 (9-for-31) with a steal and four RBIs.
The 20-year-old Lin got plenty of attention last July on a fairly large stage. He was the MVP of the Futures Game at Yankee Stadium, hitting a two-run homer that helped the World Team win. He stole 33 bases in 91 games for Greenville in the Class A South Atlantic League before heading to the Olympics last year and is a dynamite defensive outfielder, to boot.
"We feel he has the potential to have an impact on both sides of the game," Hazen said. "He's a middle of the diamond player who presents a lot of upside."
Chiang, who'll turn 21 in February, is a different kind of player. He's not nearly the defender Lin is -- he's played second base and has been trying left field on for size lately -- but the Sox do like his left-handed bat. and think he has some good power to the pull side. Lin hit .303 in 83 games for Lancaster in the Class A Advanced California League in 2008.
For many young players, an honor like being on a provisional national team roster would be a big deal, a sign they are headed in the right direction. For Lin and Chiang, it's almost old hat, not that the Sox are complaining. "They are fairly well known nationally [back in their home]," Hazen said. "They've been on the national squad a while now. They're always on these things. We think they both have a lot of good potential and upside. Being able to play on this level should give them a tremendous amount of confidence overall."
Other Red Sox on Classic rosters
SS Angel Chavez is on the Panamanian provisional roster. Now 27, he's more of a Minor League veteran who started with the Giants and has played for the Orioles, Phillies, Yankees and Dodgers systems the past three seasons.
OF Mitch Dening is likely on the Australian roster, based on the very strong showing he had in the New York-Penn League last summer. Just 20, he was a league All-Star after hitting .321 in 62 games. He's got a quick, short swing from the left side and can play all three outfield positions well.
C George Kottaras may seem to have stalled a bit after spending the past two years in Triple-A, and some might not like the batting average and the strikeouts. He'll turn 26 in May, but the Sox still like the left-handed power from behind the plate he can provide. He hit 22 homers for Pawtucket in 2008 and it's not like that kind of pop from a catcher grows on trees.
RHP Dennis Neuman is from Curacao and is on the Netherlands' provisional roster. That might be more a measure of the strength of the pitching staff the country is able to put together, though the 19-year-old right-hander is a strike-throwing reliever. His stuff, however, grades out as just average.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.