When baseball in the Dominican Republic is mentioned, stories of kids using milk bottles for gloves, shady dealings with Buscones and unscrupulous scouts, and the spectre of easily-available PEDs are often soon to follow. There's another side to that, however, and it's a side none of us ever really hear much about:
Living in a high quality hotel and school 6 days a week, 10 months of the year, boys from the Dominican Republic and Latin America practice baseball.
At the San Diego Padre's Baseball Academy, tucked away outside of San Cristobal, these boys learn more than just baseball. Giving these boys 16.5 years old and older an opportunity to develop in many ways, the academy gives the players found by scouts a rounded education. They spend a few hours a day practicing baseball and then they go to their other classes. English and computer skills are two of the main curriculums taught in order to make a submersion into American culture easier when they get signed on with a team, the ultimate goal.
I'm sure there are pros and cons of the academies themselves -- and this story, coming as it does from the Dominican Today could be an exercise in mild propaganda -- but it's interesting all the same. Most interesting is the photo gallery, which can be found here.