A Different Approach to the Dominican Republic's Resources and Major League Baseball

Cleef

Bronze
Feb 24, 2002
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Preface: Perhaps MLB's interests in the DR and Venezuela (individual team academies) are too far along for a program that includes all ML teams drafting from a pool of eligible players each year. For the example below, don?t focus on the numbers; this is a loose discussion point, not a specifically structured plan.

Imagine a handful of MLB training centers with players not affiliated to individual MLB teams, but to MLB in general. For example, 3 training centers located across the island; Santiago, Santo Domingo and San Pedro de Macoris. At age 16, players are eligible to be recruited ? or apply for admission.

At each training center you have 3 levels; Instructional league, AA and AAA. Players advance through the system just as they do in the Minor Leagues, and become eligible for the MLB first-year-player-draft at age 18.

This would allow a baseline that all players and teams work from. As it stands now, the deep-pocketed teams have a decided advantage in acquiring foreign talent; where the trend is leading. They can take greater chances on prospects, and that leads to bigger bonuses ? more money. With large amounts of money on the line ? in a relatively poor nation ? brings with it the nefarious activities of buscones and their enablers (unscrupulous MLB team representatives or their likeness). Further, I believe this to be a waypoint where performance-enhancing drugs come into the equation. If a prospect gets an invitation to a tryout with a team or buscone, a little ?juice? can carry the warning track shots over the fence, or bring a fastball to 93mph from 89. At 16 or 17 years old, that difference in production/talent adds zeroes to signing bonuses. The desperation of a poor young kid (and family) makes the option to cheat far too enticing.

Further, MLB would assume all responsibility concerning eligibility (age verification, drug testing etc.). Once a player has met all the legal criteria, they are then drafted or allocated to individual Dominican training centers based on geography and need. Not to be confused with the MLB draft, but a way to spread the talent appropriately across the training centers to balance competition/need country-wide. These individual training centers would conduct a regular baseball season; each level playing each other (instructional vs. instructional and so on) culminating in a national tourney.

Players then become eligible at age 18 for MLB?s first-year-player-draft, and are drafted just as a player would be from the US, Canada or Puerto Rico. Once drafted, players then move on to the states to play in their new team?s minor league program. A team?s individual academy process (as it stands now) would take over the player?s development in ESL and cultural assimilation in the U.S. In the States, their development could ? and hopefully would ? be accelerated, as there are greater resources stateside to achieve this.

In addition, this would take pressure off individual teams to allocate and train talent to get them MLB ready. All teams pulling in the same direction ? via MLB ? would enhance the end product on all levels. It would also balance talent acquisition across all teams and essentially eliminate unscrupulous practices (age/drugs), whether intentional or mistaken.

As it stands now, teams don?t get the same sample size of data on foreign (most specifically DR and VZ talent) players as with talent in the US or Canada (scholastically and athletically). With a comprehensive program structured as mentioned, teams could potentially have 3 years of data to consider, both in the classroom (emotional, language and cognitive skills) and on the field. Ultimately, teams don?t want a great player that?s stunted in the classroom as this leads to potential problems (read: a greatly skilled player that comes to the States and gets in trouble and possibly deported costs them dearly financially, but in the end, the player is the ultimate victim). Any efforts to eliminate these stumbling blocks benefits everyone involved.

Buscones - or any talent advisers - would still have a place in the process to get talent to the training centers, but their role would be more regulated (registered and licensed through MLB) and if the process is standardized, by definition, it should eliminate many of the problems that have existed for years.

Existing academies run by the likes of Jose Rijo would still have a place in the system for players that haven?t been admitted to MLB training centers for whatever reasons (age, skill level, or possibly violation hurdles that need to be vetted out).

A realist could easily ? and understandably ? nit-pick this approach to its death. However, what I foresee as the ultimate benefit for such an endeavor would be what it would give back to the Dominican Republic, and I personally feel that?s the most important part of the process. Educational opportunities in the Dominican Republic are fleeting for the vast majority of the population. As Major League baseball has been sometimes maligned of tapping the talent sources in the DR without equal reciprocation, my proposal would be founded on giving back as much benefit as they reap. This could be achieved in greater proportion if more of the educational programs were standardized and enhanced by condensing them to 3 or 4 training centers with better resources; more advanced teaching programs, bigger and better facilities and a more expansive list of skill-training: language and fundamental education, vocational trades, technology ? skill sets that would give back to the country on levels well beyond what a 5-tool baseball player ever could ? or a 1,000 of them for that matter. In the long-term, this sort of collaborative effort by the Dominican Republic and MLB could lift an entire country (society) in ways that are unimaginable.
 

Kyle

Silver
Jun 2, 2006
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how about a class on adjusting to life outside the DR ? the NBA does this. i think this would be essential. this concept overall is interesting...
 

Cleef

Bronze
Feb 24, 2002
1,797
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There is, and it is.

how about a class on adjusting to life outside the DR ? the NBA does this. i think this would be essential. this concept overall is interesting...

I can't say for certain that all clubs have - what I refer to as - "Cultural Assimilation", but the majority definitely do. From what I've read and understood they've made great strides in this direction. The programs I do know about are exceptional.
 

ExtremeR

Silver
Mar 22, 2006
3,078
320
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It won't happen, the draft singlehandledly and literally destroyed Puerto Rican baseball, and they won't allow that to happen here. International Free Agency is and will be the rule in DR for all the years to come. Although a little more organization won't hurt anyone.
 

Chip

Platinum
Jul 25, 2007
16,772
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Santiago
It won't happen, the draft singlehandledly and literally destroyed Puerto Rican baseball, and they won't allow that to happen here. International Free Agency is and will be the rule in DR for all the years to come. Although a little more organization won't hurt anyone.

Yeah, like maybe the limit on the percentage what those chupasangre buscones can legally take, like mr sin verguenza polonia does at 35% - and I'm an Aguilucho too.
 

Cleef

Bronze
Feb 24, 2002
1,797
6
0
How so?

It won't happen, the draft singlehandledly and literally destroyed Puerto Rican baseball
I've heard and read about this, but I don't understand this sentiment.

How did the draft kill baseball in the PR?