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16 
Youth academies in the Dominican play an
important role in developing and grooming
baseball athletes. The country is s...
English language classes are often offered to the players.
A shadow puppeteer
must be able to juggle
many roles at once!
1...
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Baseball's Next Stars: Dominican Republic's Youth Academies by Colette Weil Parrinello, FACES Magazine, April 2016, Cricket Media, Chicago, IL

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Baseball's Next Stars: Dominican Republic's Youth Academies by Colette Weil Parrinello, FACES Magazine, April 2016, Chicago, IL.

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Baseball's Next Stars: Dominican Republic's Youth Academies by Colette Weil Parrinello, FACES Magazine, April 2016, Cricket Media, Chicago, IL

  1. 1. 16  Youth academies in the Dominican play an important role in developing and grooming baseball athletes. The country is such a fertile area for talent that there are now academies run by buscones (buh-scones), private groups, former professional players, and Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. at local facilities or at his residential academy. Many young players come from poor families and the buscon invests in them. He translates for them, feeds and houses them, takes them under his training wing to prepare them for competition, and represents them in negotiations with MLB academy teams. Dominicans look on buscones favorably as a partner helping players reach their goals. The buscon provides coaching and encouragement, and for some boys, he is a friend, mentor, or father figure. He invests in the young player — and in return receives a portion of the player’s signing bonus from an MLB academy team. Players are showcased to MLB team scouts by the buscones when they are under 15, but formal tryouts take place at the academies when players are 16. However, many of the perceived top prospects have already made oral agreements through their buscon agent with a team at age 13, 14, or 15. The Chicago Cubs $8 million academy is on 50 acres outside of the capital city of Santo Domingo. The academy has four fields, four batting cages, a weight room, and two locker rooms. The Colorado Rockies academy can house 80 players. The dormitory rooms are off the clubhouse, along with a training room, weight room, cafeteria, computer room, classroom, and rooms for the staff. The academies also provide nutritional counseling, uniforms, English language and culture Baseball’s Next Stars: dominican youth academies The pathway to professional baseball often starts with a buscon (from the word buscar, “to search”). A buscon is a self-styled agent or talent scout. He identifies players with potential sometimes when they are as young as 12 or 13, and keeps his eye on others as young as eight. With more than 1,000 buscones looking for talent, it is highly competitive and the buscon may hire handlers to be the first to spot young talent. The buscon may help the families financially and provide baseball training by Colette Weil Parrinello An academy prospect works out at a facility.
  2. 2. English language classes are often offered to the players. A shadow puppeteer must be able to juggle many roles at once! 17 training, and additional schooling. Some provide Cenapec classes (long distance learning for GED — General Education Development or high school graduation equivalency) for 10th, 11th and 12th graders in all subjects, although it is not a requirement for the academies. But being accepted by an academy is not a sure sign a player will make it to the major leagues — in fact under 5 percent will do so. Less than 50 percent will make it to the minor leagues. The competition is fierce at the academies. When young players receive their signing bonus from the MLB academy team, many need to be reminded that they haven’t already “made it.” If they are cut from the team, and are not from a middle class family, they leave the academy with limited, if any, education or job training and broken dreams. But every player with a bat or a strong arm hopes that they will become the next Albert Pujols or Pedro Martinez — and it just might happen because of their love of the game, a hunger to leave the island for the American dream, their talent, and the professional training. All Major League teams run academies in the Dominican Republic.

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