The vision of a broad and impactful presence internationally, as outlined by Mike Elias after his hiring by the Orioles as executive vice president and general manager in November 2018, stretches beyond the players who are pursued and signed.
The Orioles also are serious about the way they’re trained and treated.
The team announced today plans to develop a new state-of-the-art academy in Guerra, D.R. Construction is set to begin in the coming months and last 12-16 months before reaching completion.
The complex will be spread over 22 1/2 acres and serve as home base to the Dominican player development operations.
Criticized in the past for the subpar conditions at their academy - the Orioles have two teams in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League - the new setup will include three full fields, a sports turf agility field, batting and pitching tunnels, administrative buildings, dormitories and educational facilities.
The complex will be equipped to house more than 100 players, coaches and staff members. There will be dorm-style rooms and what the club describes as “entertainment spaces,” along with three classrooms and a computer lab for on-site learning and an education plan for each player.
The dining room will offer daily meals with an emphasis on proper nutrition.
This is about more than batting practice and mound sessions.
“We have made tremendous strides over the last couple of years in establishing our international presence and revamping our baseball operations infrastructure, and this project may be the most momentous step yet,” Elias said in a statement.
“International scouting and player development are critical to the future success of the Orioles and baseball as a whole. This new academy will be the Latin American home of the Orioles, and once completed, we expect it to be one of the finest training facilities in the Dominican.”
The organization is backing up its vow to redirect funds in other areas, especially on the international market.
“This partnership group continues to execute the long-term plan announced in the fall of 2018 to invest and reinvest in baseball facilities, technology, front office research and expertise, and player talent,” Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos said in a statement.
“Our organization’s capital commitment to the Dominican Republic is yet another demonstration of our confident long view of the value of MLB, Orioles, and Camden Yards brand platforms. As we continue to invest and give back across Maryland and Florida, we see this as another opportunity to make a difference internationally in the Dominican community as we strengthen the future of Orioles baseball.”
The complex is a 20-minute drive from Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo and situated near several other major league academies, which enables the Orioles to engage in a competitive schedule. Also a huge perk.
“This complex will play a vital role in our ability to attract international talent to the organization, but the impact will extend far beyond the field,” said Koby Perez, senior director of international scouting and a symbol of the Orioles’ new-found commitment to mining talent in other countries. Elias hired him in January 2019.
“The young players we recruit and sign will learn valuable life skills off the field, including leadership, civic and community service, English as a second language, and basic American culture,” Perez said in the statement. “These development opportunities will serve them well for the rest of their lives.”
Leading the project is landowner and developer Brian Mejia. The Orioles are represented by Jose Mella, a renowned Dominican academy architect.
Mella is described as carrying a reputation as “one of the foremost training facility architects in the Dominican Republic.” He’s designed approximately half of the current academies in the Domincan Republic.
“We have made healthy advances recently in our international player development,” Elias said. “We are grateful to the many individuals who have helped make this project a reality, and we look forward to the sustained boost it will provide in filling our minor league pipeline with talented young international players for many years to come.”