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MLB Will Allow Teams To Open Academies For Dominican Instructs

Major League Baseball will allow teams to hold Dominican instructional league programs at their academies in the Dominican Republic beginning on Oct. 19, Baseball America has learned.

The Dominican instructional league is distinct from the instructional league that teams hold in the United States. During a typical year, a lot of clubs start their Dominican instructional league in October and keep it running through November. They're a mix of practices and games against other organizations, with some clubs playing a limited game schedule, while others play three to four games per week.

Of course, 2020 is not a typical year. Since March, clubs have largely shut down activities at their academies, though some teams have kept their academies open primarily to house Venezuelan players who either were unable or did not want to return home. With no minor league games, there was no Dominican Summer League season, so the July 2 signings from the 2019 class have yet to make their professional debuts. Many of those players did play last summer during Tricky League (an unofficial league for July 2 signings) and in 2019 Dominican instructs, and some of them are currently in Florida or Arizona for U.S. instructs.

Now teams can have players return to the academies for 2020 Dominican instructs, and MLB will allow clubs to schedule games against other teams. Normally those games can include unsigned "tryout" players, which means amateur players eligible to sign now or for the following year. This year, however, clubs can't bring in those amateur players for Dominican instructs. That includes a ban on bringing in any players a club is expecting to sign on Jan. 15, 2021, the new signing date for the international signing period that was pushed back from July 2, 2020. Teams will probably come up with some other program after Jan. 15 for those signings to play games before the 2021 season starts.

When it comes to scouting, teams can only scout players from other teams if it's at a game involving their own club. So if the Rangers have a game at the Mets academy, a Rangers scout could go to the Mets academy to watch that game, but scouts from other organizations would not be allowed to attend. The commissioner's office is considering an optional program for teams to share data and video from Dominican instructs with other clubs that opt into the program.

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