Cubs Have Big Plans For Dominican Complex

CHICAGO—The new labor agreement may work to even the playing field in Latin American signings, but it hasn't slowed the commitment by Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, as well as new president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and his staff. They are determined to make their organization a leader in the country where long ago a skinny kid named Sammy Sosa took time out from shining shoes to attend a tryout.

"We don't think that everything is going to be level, that everyone will know who the best players are," general manager Jed Hoyer said. "Some teams will outscout, outwork others."

In keeping with a plan that Ricketts forged when Jim Hendry was his GM, the Cubs have started construction on a 50-acre Dominican Republic academy in La Gina, about 30 miles outside Santo Domingo. It will be the largest in the country and will be open year-round as a base for Latin American operations.

Plans call for four fields, including one with artificial turf, four indoor batting cages, eight bullpens, a weight room, a cafeteria and kitchen and a dormitory that can house up to 80 players and eight staff members. The features include meeting rooms, one large classroom, a theater and a video room.

Ricketts estimates it will open at some point in the spring or summer of 2013, at a cost of $6 million-$8 million.

The Cubs purchased the land last year and were excited to hire Louie Eljaua to design the facility. With a title of special assistant to the GM, Eljaua formerly served as Boston's director of international scouting. He has overseen the construction of similar complexes for the Red Sox and Pirates.

The Dominican academy will provide a headquarters for Jose Serra, the Cubs' chief Dominican scout, and a state-of-the-art training facility for former major leaguer Carmelo Martinez, who is the Latin American field coordinator.

"We plan to have a very strong presence there," Ricketts said.


• The Cubs claimed lefthanded-hitting infielder/outfielder Adrian Cardenas on waivers from the Athletics. BA's High School Player of the Year in 2006, the 24-year-old Cardenas is a career .303 hitter in 643 minor league games. He could fit on the roster as a platoon possibility in left field and at second base.

• South African righthander Tayler Scott, a 2011 fifth-round pick who signed for $279,950, will be as excited as any of the new Cubs minor leaguers when he reports to the Fitch Park complex. Scott, who was a standout soccer player in Johannesburg, moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., to attend Notre Dame Prep, where he caught scouts' eyes with a low 90s fastball.