The Five Hottest Dominican Baseball Hotbeds
Juan Marichal was the first player from the Dominican Republic elected to the Hall of Fame in 1983. Three decades later he was still the only one.
Pedro Martinez changed that in 2015. Vladimir Guerrero quickly joined them in Cooperstown in 2018.
Albert Pujols and Robinson Cano are active players who have compiled Hall of Fame résumés.
In other words, Cooperstown is going to welcome an influx of Dominican players in the next decade.
But while Americans tend to think of the Dominican Republic as one island, in reality the nation is made up of distinct geographical regions that all developed independently and today are scouted individually by major league organizations.
|Top Dominican Hotbeds||No. Of Players||% Of All D.R. Players|
|San Pedro de Macoris||165||8.12%|
|San Francisco de Macoris||54||2.66%|
|San Juan de la Maguana||26||1.28%|
|Sabana Grande de Palenque||25||1.23%|
The Dominican Republic’s population of roughly 11 million is concentrated most densely in the south-central region, because Santo Domingo is located there. It serves as both the nation’s capital city and also its baseball capital.
The country’s oldest franchises, Tigres del Licey and Leones del Escogido, are based there—and have been for 100 years.
In the 1930s, president Rafael Trujillo made baseball the Dominican national pastime, and he made Santo Domingo the epicenter of baseball on the island.
Today, many major league organizations have established their Dominican academies in the eastern edge of the Santo Domingo province, roughly a 45-minute drive from downtown hotels.
Santo Domingo is also where the great majority of Dominican professional baseball players are born. That’s the case for Hall of Fame candidates Pujols, Beltre, Ramirez and Ortiz. It’s the case for our cover subjects Victor Robles and Juan Soto of the Nationals. And for Pirates outfielders Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. And for Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and White Sox rookie outfielder Eloy Jimenez.
|Baseball's Talent Suppliers|
|Rank||Country||Players||% Of All Players|
And it’s the case for 26 percent of the 2,061 Dominicans who played affiliated baseball in 2018.
But while players from Santo Domingo are more numerous—the city’s population is nearly 3 million—and more visible to scouts based on geography—most trainers are located there—they by no means supply all the impact talent to major league organizations.
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THE REST OF THE D.R.
Let’s take a closer look at the four other Dominican cities that supply the most baseball talent, with an emphasis on players active in the 21st century:
San Pedro de Macoris (8 percent of Dominican players): Once known as "The Cradle of Shortstops,” San Pedro de Macoris is the fifth-most populous city in the Dominican Republic and is located in the southeast. Cano and Sosa are from here, as are Alfonso Soriano, Johnny Cueto, Jose Valverde, Gold Glove second baseman Luis Castillo and Padres rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.
Santiago (7 percent): Located in the north region known as El Cibao, Santiago is the second-most populous Dominican city with half a million people. Standout players from Santiago include Jose Reyes, Jhonny Peralta, Carlos Gomez and Joaquin Benoit. Most notable among up-and-comers from Santiago is Rays shortstop Willy Adames.
San Cristobal (5 percent): The fourth-largest city in the Dominican Republic, San Cristobal is situated immediately to the west of Santo Domingo. The area produced Raul Mondesi and his son Adalberto Mondesi, the Royals’ explosive young shortstop, in addition to Francisco Liriano, Pedro Strop, Manuel Margot, Francisco Mejia and Marlins prospect righthander Sixto Sanchez.
Bani (5 percent): Located to the west of San Cristobal, Bani produces both bananas and baseball players in bunches. No Dominican city produces more baseball players per capita than Bani, which had 93 players active in affiliated ball last year, drawn from a population of roughly 67,000. The most prominent players from Bani are Miguel Tejada, Jose Ramirez, Erick Aybar and Reds righthander Luis Castillo. Rays shortstop Wander Franco is a nephew of Aybar and the No. 4 prospect in baseball.