Global Baseball

One man\’s year-long journey through the world of baseball

First Contact!

On Monday, I took in a game between the DSL Cubs and the DSL Giants at “Baseball City,” a compound outside the beachfront town of Boca Chica that houses the academies of the Cubs, Twins, Reds, and Diamondbacks.

While I spent a lot of time touring the Cubs’ academy, watching a few amateur tryouts, and interviewing the Cubs’ head scout, I was able to check out a fair amount of the game.

The players don’t have names on the backs of their jerseys, and short of walking into the team’s dugouts, getting a lineup card wasn’t looking too feasible. However, a Cubs’ representative was able to give me a copy of his team’s roster, so I was at least able to attach names to the bodies in blue out on the field.

By far the most impressive player in the game I saw, both offensively and defensively, was 2B Elvis Lara. He didn’t come up with any big hits (an infield single and an RBI chopper were the extent of his contributions), but he covers the plate incredibly well and his 2 outs were scorching line drives. Made 3 incredible plays up the middle, too. He’s already 19, but this is his first year with the organization. I looked up the Cubs’ stats, and they confirmed what I saw with my eyes: he’s easily been the best hitter on the team all year.

A 17-year-old outfielder by the name of Kelvin Soto displayed some solid gap power and the ability to take a walk, but looking at the stats, it looks like I caught him on a good day as he hasn’t performed well consistently.

The defense, as with the other DSL game I’ve seen (Ms vs. Cardinals) was predictably raw, and only Lara even closely resembled a major-league defender. Any time you see a player who has racked up a lot of triples (or even doubles) in the Dominican Summer League, it’s a good bet that half of them were balls that should have been caught by a center fielder who’s still working on learning how to play a ball hit over his head.

As far as local media goes, I’ve been scouring newspapers looking at the way the DSL is covered down here, and with the exception of one daily…it’s not. In general, the Dominican press is more concerned with reporting on the successes of Dominican players in the big leagues than with covering what’s happening locally.

The one exception (so far) was a feature on Washington Nationals’ reliever Atahualpa Severino. Severino’s a 21-year-old working his way back from Tommy John surgery, and has been dominant on a level considered incredible even for the pitching-friendly DSL. It’s rare to see a 21-year-old still hanging around the DSL, but when an organization decides to keep a player around that long, chances are he’s either suffered a setback due to injury, or he’s a lefthanded pitcher. Severino is both. The report, featured in yesterday’s Listin Diario, was concerned primarily with detailing Severino’s success (44 and walked 3 in 18 innings, good for a 0.50 ERA), and repertoire (fastball sitting in the 90-92 range, and a quality curve and slider). While we get precious little in the way of a backstory here, it does say that Severino signed for a $6,000 bonus a few years ago. This is his second season in the DSL, and his first since his surgery last year. Players are only allowed a maximum of 3 years before they’re either released or sent up to their teams’ US system.

Also from the Listin Diario (though not available online for some reason), one of the larger youth leagues down here in the DR released annual honors today.

In the age 13-14 category, a kid named Joel Jimenez was named player of the year, and Amado Pena took home the honor of pitcher of the year.

The other age levels make a distinction between “player of the year” and “most valuable player” (probably to honor more kids, though I hope to get confirmation in the form of an interview with the league’s officials before too long).

The players of the year:

Age 11-12: Erick Peralta
9-10: Joel Gonzalez
7-8: Deiker Beriguete

Most Valuable Players:
11-12: Yeison Pujols
9-10: Joán Martinez
7-8: Victor Estevez

I wonder if I’m alone in being surprised that a national newspaper is publicizing the names of “prospects” as young as 8 years old. Crazy.

Advertisements

July 19, 2006 - Posted by | DSL, Local Media

7 Comments »

  1. Hey man, I’m just curious as to what exactly you are researching in your visits to these countries?

    I did a semester project on this for one of my college classes, read up on how the players are treated, interviewed one former “prospect”, and talked with my cousin who lived in the Dominican Republic all his life and signed a contract with the Texas Rangers.
    I’ll be very interested in reading what you see/observe.
    You planning on having a book or what, what’s the deal?

    Thanks, Good luck, and enjoy DR, don’t go too hard on the project, enjoy the country, its beauty, and the sexxxy ladies 😉

    Comment by Benny Blanco from da bronx | July 20, 2006

  2. Hey, I’m actually going to Boca Chica next month and was hoping to catch a few games while I’m down there (particularly at the Yankees new complex), but I’m not quite sure how it works. Can you just show up to a field and buy a ticket to a game or what? Any info would be appreciated.

    Thanks

    Comment by Shawn | July 20, 2006

  3. I would really like to know more about the surroundings as well. If you are saving it all for a book I understand, but I would love to get a glimpse of the Dominican through your travels.

    Any chance you visit any baseball academy’s? visit the Braves camp?

    Comment by Brian | July 20, 2006

  4. Hi all. Thanks for checking the site out.

    Benny – To sum up my research briefly, I´m looking at baseball as a microcosm of globalization. Baseball´s interesting in this regard as it is both an industry looking to expand its consumer base and its pool of talent (labor), and an avenue for cultural exchange. While my work will differ in many ways, there´s some similarities between what I´m doing and Franklin Foer´s work in the book ¨How Soccer Explains the World: an Unlikely Theory of Globalization.¨

    Shawn: I haven´t been to the Yankees´ complex in Santo Domingo yet, but I can tell you that most of academies down here are really out of the way. My advice is to hire a taxi driver (chances are he won´t know where it is, but he´ll drive in a general direction and then start asking around) and arrange for him to come back a few hours later. You don´t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere out here. The games themselves are free. Assuming you´re an American, expect to stand out.

    Brian: I´ll talk a little bit about the surroundings as I visit more areas. So far I´ve been to the Cardinals´ Academy, and the complex I mentioned above, as well as about a dozen local parks and stadiums not affiliated with the academies.  I´ll be visiting quite a few more in the coming weeks (I´ve been here for 2 weeks, and I´m here until the beginning of October).

    Comment by jhelfgott | July 20, 2006

  5. Thanks for thee GREAT source of information. It’s nice to have a first person perspective into the goings-on in the DSL. Do you have any plans to check out the Nationals complex? I’d be really interested in their efforts to rebuild internationally from someone on the ground there.

    Comment by Brian | July 21, 2006

  6. Thanks for the kind words and the linkage, Brian. I’m new to this blogging thing, so it’s nice to know somebody’s interested in what I’m doing 🙂

    There’s actually a good chance I’ll check out one of the Nationals’ academies tomorrow. The Nats have 2 DSL squads, and I’m unsure whether that means they have two separate facilities or not. In any case, the two squads play each other tomorrow, so it’s an opportunity to get a comprehensive look at their organization down here.

    Comment by jhelfgott | July 21, 2006

  7. Drop me a line if you get anything of note that you believe may not be of interest to the general readership but would appeal to a Nats fan

    Comment by Brian | July 21, 2006


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: