submitted by Braden Kletz
As some of you may have seen, the Orioles announced the creation of an Orioles Dominican Academy in the Dominican Republic. As described by the Orioles Senior Director of International Scouting Koby Perez:
“This complex will play a vital role in our ability to attract international talent to the organization, but the impact will extend far beyond the field. The young players we recruit and sign will learn valuable life skills off the field, including leadership, civic and community service, English as a second language, and basic American culture. These development opportunities will serve them well for the rest of their lives.”
So by the description given, this won’t just be a playing field. The buildings attached will be a learning space for up-and-coming talent. There will be over 100 dorm rooms for athletes, classrooms and computer labs for educational purposes, a state of the art cafeteria, and obviously the things attached to baseball with weight rooms, playing fields and a turf field that will be used for strength and conditioning. The artificial field is also a big selling point because there aren’t very many places in the Dominican that offer this kind of care.
As described in the press release by GM Mike Elias, this will help the Orioles increase their presence abroad and make the Orioles a destination where this foreign talent will want to come. Elias also said that he understands parents might be concerned for their child in these kinds of situations, so he believes this facility will make certain that their child is in good hands and they have nothing to worry about. Here is the exact quote:
“We have made tremendous strides over the last couple of years in establishing our international presence and revamping our baseball operations infrastructure, and this project may be the most momentous step yet.”
Orioles Senior Director of International Scouting Koby Perez also mentioned that this facility will somewhat mirror what the Orioles have in Sarasota, so these kids have the same opportunity to develop as those who are in Sarasota. Also, it was briefly mentioned that this facility will be home to many foreign prospects, not just those in the Dominican. Because of that, the facility will be about 20 minutes away from their airport which makes things very convenient for those coming into town.
All in all I think this is definitely a step in the right direction. An international presence is key to building a great farm system and eventually a great pro team. We see many other teams that seem to get every big name Latin American prospect, and it sounds like the Orioles are trying to change that cycle. The facility will reportedly be up and running in about 12-16 months after construction has started and is said to be around 22.5 acres. It is good to see Mike Elias making strides to bring winning baseball back to Birdland.