In March, the Orioles hired former major leaguer Nelson Norman to serve as the director of baseball operations in the Dominican Republic. Norman oversees all aspects of the organization’s Dominican program and managed one of its two teams this year in the Dominican Summer League.
A former major league infielder born in San Pedro de Macoris, Norman, 54, has more than two decades of experience in player development in both the United States and the Dominican Republic with Montreal, Atlanta, Boston, Minnesota, St. Louis and Washington. He has worked for Dan Duquette in Montreal and Boston before joining him with the Orioles.
The Orioles, along with the Yankees, Mets and Pirates, were the four organizations that fielded two teams last season in the Dominican Summer League. It was the first time the O’s hsd two teams in that league since 2010.
Team No. 1, managed by Elvis Morel, went 37-33, and team No. 2, managed by Norman, went 33-38.
The O’s began an instructional league in the Dominican a few days ago that will run through Dec. 6. Norman will oversee that as about 65 players take part in workouts and games.
In a recent phone interview, Norman answered a few questions about the Orioles’ Dominican program.
What was your goal for your first season leading the O’s Dominican program?
“My goal was to zero in the guys with some tools that can help us in the future. We had some good workers here that worked hard. We had guys get better. Early on, it was about repetition, repetition, repetition.
“But by the end of the year, the No. 1 club won six games in a row and the No. 2 team won nine games in a row and the work showed up.
“When you are in the dugout as a manager and you see someone hit a double and hear the kids say, ‘You have to move him over,’ it seems they didn’t forget what we were teaching them.”
What is the current talent level of the O’s Dominican program?
“We are getting better. We may not be as good as the Yankees or the Mets. We’ll keep getting good talent in the program and it will show in two to three years how good we are. We will look as good as anyone else.
“The Yankees, in their Dominican Summer League program, they might have $6 or $7 million on the field. If you want good players, you have to invest and we are getting better in that area and we’re getting pretty good players. You don’t need to invest as much as the Yankees to get good players; you can get them at all prices. There are so many players down there.”
Will the O’s field two teams in the Dominican Summer League again next year?
“I do believe we are going with two teams again. It is an advantage if you can have two teams. There are so many players, and if you do it, you’ll see the advantages in a couple of years.”
You worked with Dan Duquette before in both Montreal and Boston. How does he lend support to your program?
“He’s a big believer in international. I met Dan when he was a scout with Milwaukee. He knows talent and he’s really on top of things. He is always aware of what is going on with our program here. You may think he’s not watching, but he sees every report daily. That pushes us harder.”
A few days ago Norman provided an update on some of the young players that showed promise this year in the DSL. Click here to see that entry.