The Los Angeles Angels international supervisor of scouting fired on Monday is a subject of an ongoing Major League Baseball Department of Investigations probe into the skimming of signing bonuses given to prospects from Latin America, SI.com has learned.
The Angels dismissed Clay Daniel -- who joined the club nine years ago and oversaw the signings of, among others, pitcher Ervin Santana and shortstop Erick Aybar, both from the Dominican Republic, and first baseman Kendry Morales from Cuba -- a month before the July 2 international signing day, the most hectic time on the international baseball calendar. Scouts in Daniel's position are often making final evaluations and brokering deals for top-level talent in Latin American countries at this time.
The Angels declined to elaborate on Daniel's firing when contacted by SI.com on Thursday night, saying only that he was no longer with the club, but sources tell SI.com that the team grew concerned about possible financial misdeeds by scouts in Venezuela under Daniel's supervision. One baseball source tells SI.com that the Angels also dismissed several of their Venezuelan scouts along with Daniel.
Daniel did not return calls from SI.com on Thursday night, but in an interview with the Los Angeles Times he said he was "dumbfounded" by the firing, unaware of any misconduct by scouts in his charge and uncertain why the Angels had terminated him. "They said they wanted to make a change," Daniel told the paper.
While it's unclear whether the investigation was a reason for his dismissal, Daniel has close ties to others under MLB and FBI investigation for pocketing money earmarked for the signing bonuses of Latin American players. Daniel was a scout for the Cincinnati Reds from 1992 to 1994, when former Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden served as the Reds GM. During the 1994 season Jorge Oquendo was also a scout in Latin America for the Reds. Oquendo later scouted the region for the Chicago White Sox, under the team's senior director of player personnel, David Wilder. The White Sox fired Wilder in May 2008 after allegations surfaced that he had siphoned money from signing bonuses. As SI.com previously reported, Bowden, Oquendo and Wilder are all focuses of the ongoing investigations.