What follows: A translation of this story on Rouen Huskies covering the signing of Alexandre Roy by your Seattle Mariners. Jeff's post on this topic appeared March 1 and can be found here. Within Jeff's thorough post are links to two news briefs which provide minimal additional details and background on Roy.
Why do this:The more data, the better. This story on the French website includes some local color, is written from the perspective of a place where soccer is king, and Google translate only goes so far. I know. I've tried it for non-French languages.
Briefly, my qualifications: I grew up in Paris, spent 12 years of my childhood there, and graduated from a French public high school.
Also of interest:It's customary in French journalism to use sentence fragments. All the time. It's just a style thing, and might be related to the tradition/necessity of saving column inches. As we have no such limitations online, I unfragmented several sentences, mostly where it seemed helpful. This way, the translation is faithful, yet is also adapted to our ears.
Sincere and heartfelt thanks:To LL reader Chris_FB, who first linked to the French-language story in a comment.
Layout: The original story is in italics, with only a couple of extraneous paragraphs removed, and my translation follows. Sometimes I'll interject with a [comment in brackets], but I'll try to keep those to a minimum. This post is long enough as it is. Enjoy anyway.
EDIT, 8:38 p.m.: I added a short Q and A between the website author and Alex and his dad after Matthew directed me to it. Some cliches and goodies in there.
C’était en fin d’année. Robin et Alexandre rentrent du cinéma. Ils sont allés voir MoneyBall avec Brad Pitt. Un film sur l’entraîneur des A’s d’Oakland, qui évoque notamment son mode de recrutement. Clin d’œil du destin? En rentrant à la maison, à Notre dame de Bondeville, Robin trouve un mail des Mariners de Seattle. Ils veulent voir Alexandre.
Il faut dire que le jeune rouennais est suivi depuis plusieurs mois par des clubs de la Major league.
L’été dernier, en effet, Alexandre a été invité à participer à un regroupement organisé en Italie par la Major League Baseball. Cette académie réunit les 50 meilleurs joueurs européens de 16 à 19 ans. Durant ce stage, les joueurs sont encadrés comme les jeunes professionnels de la Rookie league avec entraînements le matin et matchs l’après-midi. Et plusieurs recruteurs de la MLB sur place rédigent d’élogieux rapports sur le grand gaucher de Rouen.
Les Pirates de Pittsburgh ont été les premiers à se manifester. Puis le Devil rays de Tampa Bay, les Cubs de Chicago…et les Mariners de Seattle.
The calendar year was ending. Robin and Alexandre were coming home from the movie theater, where they'd just seen "Moneyball" with Brad Pitt. [Robin is Alexandre's father.] A movie about the Oakland A's general manager, focusing on his roster construction -- was this a wink from destiny? Upon arriving home, at Notre dame de Bondeville, Robin finds an e-mailfrom the Seattle Mariners. They want to see Alexandre.
It needs to be said that the young Rouennias [resident of Rouen, in northern France] has been, for months now, on the radar of several MLB clubs. Last summer, in fact, Alexandre had been invited to participate in an MLB-run camp in Italy, to which the 50 best European players ages 16-19 were invited. During that period, the players were treated like new minor leaguers, with practices each morning and games each afternoon. And several MLB scouts gushed on the spot over the tall lefty from Rouen.
Le 17 février, Bob Angle, le vice président des opérations internationales des Mariners, arrive à Rouen, à peine descendu deson vol Seattle-Paris, avec l’un de ses recruteurs, WayneNorton. Bob Angle? Une star dans son domaine! Elu recruteur de l’année 2011 en MLB. Un flair sans pareil pour dénicher de jeunes talents. Roy Halladay? Chris Carpenter? Pat Hentgen? Felix Hernandez? Toutes ces stars du baseball ont été découverts jeunes par Angle. Tous ont ensuite décroché un Cy young award, la plus prestigieuse récompense en MLB pour un lanceur. Un trophée que l’on pourrait comparer au Ballon d’Or pour le football.
On February 17, Bob Engle, the Mariners' VP of International Operations, arrives in Rouen, straight from the airport, with Seattle scout Wayne Norton. Bob Engle? A star in his field! [The reporter may have spelled your name wrong, monsieur Bob, but all is forgiven now, right?] He was voted Scout of the Year in 2011, and has a peerless eye for young talent. Roy Halladay, Cris Carpenter, Pat Hentgen, Felix Hernandez -- all these baseball stars were discovered by Engle. All have won a Cy Young award, MLB's highest honor for pitchers. A trophy not unlike soccer's Golden Ball. [Which is bestowed annually on the most outstanding soccer player in Europe]
Les deux américains veulent voir Alexandre lancer. «Après avoir regardé lancer Alexandre pendant quelques minutes, Engle lui a dit: Ne laisse jamais qui que ce soit modifier ta mécanique. Elle est parfaite!», raconte Robin Roy."
The two Americans want to see Alexandre throw. After having watched Alexandre pitch for a few minutes, Robin Roy said Engle told Alexandre, "Don't ever let anyone modify your mechanics. They are perfect!"
Après la séance d’entrainement, discussion avec le père… Toute la famille est invitée dans un bon restaurant rouennais pour mieux connaître l’environnement d’Alexandre… Les Mariners sont séduits... Une offre est très vite sur la table. «Je voulais une offre, explique Robin, qui allait démontrer qu’ils considéraient Alexandre comme un bon espoir, je voulais aussi qu’il y ait un projet clair pour le développer et, surtout, qu’Alexandre n’ait plus jamais de soucis pour assurer la poursuite de ses études. L’offre répondait à ces critères et nous l’avons acceptée.»
Malgré des relances ces derniers jours des Yankees de New York, des Phillies de Philadelphie ou des Royals de Kansas city... Alexandre signe son contrat devant notaire et devient le deuxième rouennais à signer pro après Joris Bert en 2007 (Los Angeles Dodgers)."
After practice, time to talk things over with the father. The whole family is invited to a nice local restaurant so as to get a better feel for Alexandre's environment. The Mariners are entranced. An offer is quickly on the table. "I wanted an offer," Robin said, "that would show they consider Alexandre to be a good prospect. I also wanted to see that they had a plan for his development, and especially that Alexandre's efforts to pursue his education would never be compromised. The offer met those criteria and we accepted it."
This despite renewed efforts by the New York Yankees [suck it], the Philadelphia Phillies and the Kansas City Royals. Alexandre signed his contract, had it notarized, and thus became the second player from Rouen to sign with an MLB team, following Joris Bert, inked by the Dodgers in 2007.
Ethan Paquette, la nouvelle recrue de Rouen pour la saison 2012 fera levoyage en sens inverse. Ethan vient de passer deux saisons avec les Mariners, après avoir été drafté en 2010. "Alex rejoint une excellente organisation pour les jeunes joueurs. Les Mariners sont réputés pour la qualité de leur formation. Dites à Alex de ne pas se laisser intimider par la compétition. Peu importe quoi qu’il arrive, il faut qu’il croit en lui et reste confiant toute la saison. Je lui souhaite bonne chance."
Bob Angle est reparti àSeattle satisfait. Son adjoint Wayne Norton, resté sur Rouen pour la signature, explique l’intérêt des Mariners pour le gaucher rouennais.
Ethan Paquette, Rouen's new recruit for the 2012 season, will make the trip in the opposite direction. Ethan just spent two seasons with the Mariners after having been drafted in 2010. "Alex is joining an excellent organization when it comes to young players," Rouen team president Xavier Rolland said. "The Mariners are renowned for the quality of their training. Tell Alex to not let himself be intimidated by the competition. No matter what happens, he needs to believe in himself and stay confident all season long. I wish him good luck."
Bob Engle returned to Seattle satisfied, while his deputy Norton stayed to collect the signed contract and answer further questions about the Mariners' interest in the lefty from Rouen.
[Now we enter a Q and A between the reporter and Norton. I didn't bother to include the original text anymore. You can find it here.]
Rouen Huskies: Why did you sign Alexandre?
Wayne Norton: He's young and has tremendous upside. I love his physical tools, and he has a good build. He's a lefty. He's got great genes (His father Robin was a star pitcher and manager for Rouen). His mechanics are clean, balanced, well coordinated. I very much love his arm movement, his amplitude... He throws easy. His arm is young and fresh... He hasn't forced much, unlike many American pitchers his age who have already put much strain on their arms... I think his curve can be intimidating.
Plus, he's intelligent and a good student. He listens, he learns, he works hard. He's coachable! His coaches here (Robin, Sylvain Viery, Keino Perez) have donegood work with him. He's in a favorable environment: his family supports him, the club team allows him to grow.
RH: What happens now to Alexandre?
WN: The Mariners will nurture him, develop him. He is very young, we're going to take it easy. It's no good going too fast, we have to let him develop at his own paceand give him the best fit in our organization. First he'll take his year-end exams, then in our Rookie League in Arizona this summer. Then he'll return to France to graduate from high school, all while playing and practicing for Rouen and the Pole [an elite squad].
Then, he'll join our minor league system. He'll have to be promoted through Rookie League, A ball, then AA or AAA before getting called up. He might spend two seasons at one level or skip another level altogether. We'll see. Greg Halman and Alex Liddi (ed. note: the only two European and Europe-born players to reach the majors) spent five years in our system before making their MLB debuts.
RH: Why recruit him at such a young age?
WN: He's physically and mentally mature enough to rub elbows with the pros. He'll be provided with more coaching and stiffer competition. For him personally, getting signed today takes a lot of pressure off. He can concentrate on the rest of his studies without asking himself a thousand questions about his future. Had he waited, he would have experienced more stress, and a period of doubt and questioning can sometimes lead to catastrophe. He's going to be more at ease now.
RH: He's the fourth Frenchman to go pro...
WN: I know the others, Joris Bert, Andy Paz... very nice players. I think Alexandre has something more than them. He could go very far.
RH: Is Europe becoming a fertile recruiting area?
WN: It's better every year. The academies like Rouen's Pole or other programs in Germany and the Netherlands are doing good work. All thoseprograms are bringing young talents together to compete against each other. So Europe is on the right path. And signing Alexandre, for example, helps bring attention from other MLB clubs to France and Europe. Your players get on our radars that way. Holy cow! We should have looked at Europe sooner! (laughs)
Finally, a conversation between the website reporter and Alex and Robin, held February 26. This part can be found here.
RH: What's next for Alex now in the next few months? And the next few years?
RR: In the next few months, he'll take his final exams [the first in a gauntlet of tests he needs to pass to graduate high school] and will practice with the French national team and the local Rouen club. Following that, he'll spend July and August in Peoria, Arizona. He'll return in September for his senior year. He could be invited to train with the team in Arizona or the Dominican Republic during vacations. We'll send his academic schedule to the Mariners so they can work on the possibilities. [French schools typically grant four two-week breaks during the school year.] After he graduates, he'll concentrate exclusively on his new professional life: he'll return to Arizona and begin to work his way through the minors, A, AA, etc.
RH: What advice have you given him? Or will give him?
RR: Alex is serious and mature for his age. He has assimilated plenty of stuff already. My advice would be as follows: to continue and work seriously like he already does. And to not overestimate anyone. [Nice.] This way, he'll fit in naturally where he belongs.
RH: Alex, what does it mean to you to go pro?
AR: It's the first step of a big dream. It's both exciting and impressive to know that I can start to realize that dream.
RH: Are you currently competing?
AR: Yes. I've already restarted practice and am counting on being fully prepared for the season opener with Rouen.
RH: What do you know of the Mariners?
AR: It's a top-notch organization with good young players. It would be awesome to have Ichiro for a right fielder!![Attaboy.]
RH: What does the near future look like for you?
AR: The most important thing is to successfully graduate, in order to be completely free. Then, I'll give my all to baseball.
RH: Not too nervous?
AR: No. Maybe later, but for now I can just focus on preparation.
RH: You're the fourth Frenchman to go pro, but the first pitcher...
AR: Call me A-Roy (kidding)!! Seriously, I don't attach too much importance to that kind of thing, my ultimate goal isn't just to sign a contract.
Hope you enjoyed it. Here's another link to the story if you want pics of Alex King, because I don't want to post them here, run afoul of some secret copyright law, and end up bunking in Guantanamo.
That's Alex King, by the way. Not King Alex. Heresy! Stop that right now!