Orioles talk about plans for new Dominican facility

The Orioles continue to step up their game in the international market.

The club today announced plans to develop a new, state-of-the-art training academy in Guerra, Dominican Republic. The 22.5-acre complex will be home to the Orioles’ Dominican player development operations, which will include three full fields, a sports-turf agility field, batting and pitching tunnels, administrative buildings, dormitories and educational facilities.

The Guerra project is set to begin construction in April with a 12-to-16-month timetable for completion.

Once complete, the complex will house more than 100 players, coaches and staff, providing dormitory-style rooms and entertainment spaces. It will include three classrooms and a computer lab, which will provide on-site learning and an education plan for each player. The complex will also be home to a dining room that will offer daily nutritious meals. The complex - a 20-minute drive from Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo - is near several other Major League Baseball academies, allowing for a competitive schedule to be developed.

Thumbnail image for Elias-Sunglasses-Visor-ST-Sidebar.jpgDuring a Zoom press conference today and also in a team video released today, Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias discussed this project.

“This is a long time coming and a major milestone in this organization’s commitment to a full and aggressive and correct approach to acquiring and developing international talent,” Elias said. “Big part of our strategy going forward. Big part of being successful in Major League Baseball today.

“We want to be at the forefront of doing that, and I think this facility with enable that and put our international players in the best position to not only succeed on the field but receive the education, the language education and cultural education that is necessary for success in life, even outside of baseball.

“Since I have been here, updating the infrastructure of this organization has been priority No. 1. So for me and our front office, this is a huge milestone, knowing that this was a big checklist item for us. It’s not an easy thing to do. It requires significant investment and I thank our partnership group very dearly for their commitment to this and their willingness to embark on a project like this.

“We have, I think, a first-rate, wonderful spring training complex here in Sarasota, and this will put our Dominican facility on par with that and with anything out there.”

Elias emphasized how important this is for the Orioles as they continue to enhance their international efforts.

“The talent that is coming out of Latin America is just as important as that that comes out of the draft. And the importance of your training facilities in Latin America has grown,” he said.

“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.”

Elias said planning for the project began right after he was hired.

“I want to say it was within the first couple of weeks of being on the job that we started to investigate possibilities for improving our situation in the Dominican Republic,” he said. “This was a huge priority.”

Koby Perez, the Orioles’ senior director of international scouting, shared his thoughts on the project.

“An academy like this really helps out our process as far as player development and scouting,” said Perez. “It is a state-of-the-art facility, which is going to basically parallel what we have in Sarasota. So it gives our players the opportunity to develop in the Dominican Republic as if they were in Sarasota.

“For international scouting, it’s a huge selling point when you have a facility like this. When you talk to parents and agents, obviously they want their player to be in the best hands. And the best facilities.

“My personal favorite part is we’re going to have an artificial turf agility field that, for me, gives a lot of benefits for our strength and conditioning program. Something rare in the D.R.”

Perez said the facility will yield many year-round benefits.

“The complex is a good place for the players, not only when we sign them and they are young, 17 or 18, but it’s also good for big leaguers that are from the D.R. or Venezuela in the offseason.” he said. “I’m sure that everyone in the organization is going to benefit from this facility.”

Perez said it will also help in signing players.

“It’s really important. When you are negotiating with the players and their parents and their agents, they want to know where their son or player is going to be,” Perez said. “To be able to promote our complex and player development system as one of the best is essential.”

The director of the Orioles’ Dominican Republic academy, Felipe Rojas Alou Jr., discussed what the layout will look like.

“We’re going to have three buildings,” said Alou. “One will be a residential building. We’ll have a main building, our cafeteria, and kitchen and clubhouses and offices for coaches to do their work. We will also have a third building for medical and strength and conditioning.

“With the big commitment that we have now - not just with Dominican talent but international talent - to have a facility, a resource like this, makes a huge difference.”

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