Immigrants Fill Dugouts of Minor League Teams

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2009 10:29 AM CDT
Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa goes through boarding procedures at New Tokyo International Airport, Dec. 1, 2008, before flying to the US to join the Red Sox' minor league system.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
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(Newser) – Foreigners, willing to work for less money, are taking American jobs … on the baseball diamond, the Wall Street Journal reports. Ever since George W. Bush signed the Compete Act in 2007, which essentially gave baseball teams unlimited work visas, teams have been snapping up foreign talent at a record pace. The Cubs, for example, have 142 immigrants throughout their major and minor league system, compared to 86 before the law.

Foreign players often come a lot cheaper than American prospects, who routinely command six-figure signing bonuses. “I signed for $1,000, before taxes,” says one Spaniard in the Padres system. “Basically, I signed for a plane ticket and a work visa.” The result is a surprisingly diverse minor league system. Though the majority of imports are Latin American, others hail from such disparate homes as Russia, the Czech Republic, and New Zealand.