With an international draft potentially on the horizon, Major League Baseball is trying to get more involved in the process of organizing and showcasing amateur talent in Latin America. Today the league announced that it is starting an unnamed league for unsigned players in the Dominican Republic.
Practically speaking, it's difficult to see how MLB will be able to compete with more established leagues that have the support of trainers like the Dominican Prospect League, Dominican International League, International Prospect League and other smaller, locally-run leagues organized by trainers in their areas across the island. MLB has run showcases in the past, though until its event last month at the Mets Dominican academy featuring games between Dominican and Venezuelan prospects, scouts have said the league has had trouble attracting quality talent. Perhaps that will change, but right now they're trying to catch up to the agents and trainers in the Dominican Republic who had the foresight to set up their own leagues over the last couple of years.
Here's the press release from MLB:
Major League Baseball will launch a new league that will provide a neutral forum for Major League organizations and scouts to observe the top unsigned amateur players in the Dominican Republic, it was announced today.
In addition to featuring players that will become eligible to sign after July 2nd, the new league will also broaden its focus to include players who are already eligible to sign professional contracts.
Beginning today, the league will host games every Thursday, alternating weekly between current eligible players and unsigned players. All of the games will be played at various MLB Club academies located in the Dominican Republic.
The new league will also include an educational component for the participating players. In addition, the league’s coaching staff will conduct periodic instructional clinics throughout the country for younger players as part of the league’s outreach element. The entire initiative is part of MLB’s continued commitment to the development of baseball in the Dominican Republic and Latin America.
“Major League Baseball is excited to begin its new prospect league in the Dominican Republic,” said Kim Ng, Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball. “We believe that this new league will provide amateur players with an opportunity to showcase their talent, and we hope that by including educational and community-outreach components in their participation, we will also prepare these players for opportunities that go beyond the playing field.”
The launch of the prospect league is the newest opportunity for MLB scouts to view top talent, following the Venezuela-Dominican Republic Showcase held in the Dominican Republic in early February.
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