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Jonathan Mayo

International Prospect Series announced

Inaugural event coordinated by USA Baseball and MLB will be held March 27-28

International Prospect Series announced

Baseball fans usually have to wait a couple of years before getting any kind of chance to see the top international prospects play in the United States. Thanks to USA Baseball and Major League Baseball, they can get a head start this March.

The inaugural International Prospect Series was announced by both bodies on Thursday and it will be held March 27-28 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. The series is expected to feature high-school aged athletes from Aruba, Colombia, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Panama and Venezuela. This International All-Star Prospects squad will be comprised mostly of free agent-eligible players who will be able to sign with Major League organizations when the new signing period begins on July 2, selected by Major League Baseball personnel.

Among those participating are top pitching prospects Alvaro Seijas and Anderson Amarista from Venezuela. Outfielders Starling Heredia, Jhailyn Ortiz and Gilberto Celestino, as well as infielder Carlos Vargas, all from the Dominican Republic, headline the top position players making the trip. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., son of the former big league All-Star, is believed to be participating, but he has yet to be confirmed.

"Major League Baseball is proud to stand alongside USA Baseball on the launch of the International Prospect Series," said Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. "In the years ahead, our global game will aim to develop more players -- at all levels and from all communities. This event promises to be a strong showcase of amateur talent in a format that can help advance the careers of many players."

"Continuing to grow the game globally has always been important to USA Baseball, and partnering with Major League Baseball on the International Prospect Series is another opportunity to continue that drive," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's executive director/CEO. "It is also exciting to shine the spotlight on our local community and the great baseball hosted in Cary, North Carolina, each year. We look forward to two competitive days of baseball at the National Training Complex."

The international squad will play against two North Carolina high school baseball teams over the course of the two-day event, South Caldwell High School and Providence High School. Things actually kick off with a pro-style workout for the international players on Thursday, March 26. South Caldwell gets first crack at the international squad on Friday, playing in the complex's main stadium. Saturday's game against Providence will take place on one of USA Baseball's back fields.

"Any time you have an arena where you can evaluate players from different places in competition, it's always a good thing," Pirates director of Latin American scouting Rene Gayo said.

The National Training Complex was already scheduled to be chock full of scouts, thanks to the annual National High School Invitational (March 24-28), which brings together 16 of the top high school baseball programs in the U.S. each March. Considered terrific one-stop shopping for the upcoming Draft, the addition of the International Prospect Series allows for even more amateur talent to be seen in one fell swoop.

"I think it's pretty neat," Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer said. "So many places have become specialized in their scouting departments. "You're going to have an international flair and domestic flair in one venue. Most of us don't overlap anymore, so it'll be interesting to all be in one place to see what's going on with each other's talent pools. If the international guys get to play under the lights, that's not something those scouts get to see from those players much. That'll be an added benefit."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.