As the Cardinals set forth in the past decade to expand the territories from which they discover talent, they encountered everything from uneven terrain to unfriendly exchange rates.

The levels and styles of play were variable from region to region while, in several markets, the return on investment was difficult to calculate, let alone guarantee. The Cardinals re-established themselves in the Dominican Republic and then scanned the horizon for their next move – perhaps migrating from the Caribbean to Japan, maybe Korea. But as the club considered extending its international reach, the front office recognized the value of focusing on where they had their best footing, Latin America. Their global thinking became localized.

"We've realized it is a much better strategy to be successful in Latin America instead of spreading our resources thin and risk not getting the same return from other markets like in Asia," general manager John Mozeliak said Thursday. "I thought if we put only one foot in the water we were never going to be competitive.

"We had to jump in with both feet."

Ten years after the team pulled out of the Caribbean for more than a year to reboot and rethink their presence there, the Cardinals' top prospect, Dominican outfielder Oscar Taveras, is a product of their restructured scouting. John Sickels, a respected prospect pundit, named 44 Cardinals minor-league players in his club rankings last month, and seven were from the Cardinals' outreach in Latin America. The Cardinals have a deal in place with 18-year-old Dominican righty Alex Reyes for $950,000, one of the largest bonuses this season for an amateur pitcher from the international markets, according to Baseball America. That deal soon will be finalized when Reyes' paperwork is validated by Major League Baseball.

The next step into international waters for the Cardinals could be one they have mostly dipped their toe in to check the temperature before – the pro free-agent markets.