top of page
  • Writer's pictureRiley Day

Orioles put the finishing touches on a new baseball academy in the Dominican Republic

By: Riley Day

January 30, 2024


Photo Credit: Baltimore Orioles

SBAJ has reported extensively on professional sports leagues placing an emphasis on international expansion. Check out Alejandro Echeverria’s excellent November article on the NFL’s global expansion. In 2007, the league played its first regular season game in London. By 2017, four games were staged there, the equivalent of half of one regular-season home schedule. Mexico was added to the slate in 2016, and Germany in 2022. According to Bundesliga.com, an agreement was signed for four years of games to be played across Munich and Frankfurt. The launch of the International Home Marketing Areas in 2022 gave certain teams the right to market, engage with fans, and undergo commercialized activations in international territories. According to the official NFL football operations website, the strategic effort will enable clubs to build their brands globally while driving international fan growth. There have even been discussions of a possible international NFL franchise, with London and Munich at the top of the list.


The MLB has also recently joined the international conversation and pushed for market expansion. The Baltimore Orioles recently built a state-of-the-art baseball academy in San Antonio de Guerra, Dominican Republic. They held an opening ceremony on January 16th to celebrate, featuring notable team alumni Vladimir Guerrero Sr., Nelson Cruz, and Miguel Tejada. According to Camden Chat, the academy features three baseball fields, batting cages, pitching mounds, gym equipment, and residential housing. The Orioles plan to put the new facility to use right away, hosting a small camp for international signees next week. The franchise has still never promoted a prospect from their academy to the big league club. The investment in the Dominican Republic represents a “culmination of years of hard work by so many people, and I am grateful to everyone who made this a reality. For the last several years, one of the main goals of our partnership group and front office has been to excel in Latin America, and I am very pleased by what we as an organization have accomplished in this sector,” proclaimed General Manager Mike Elias. 


The 22.5 acre complex is home to the regional facility for Caribbean, Central, and South American player development operations. It will house more than 100 players, coaches, and staff, providing dorm-style rooms, entertainment spaces, three classrooms, and a computer lab. Players will enjoy on-site learning and individualized education plans, as well as a premier dining hall offering daily nutrition. 


The Dominican Republic produces the most non-US born players in Major League Baseball, boasting 104 players from the island starting on Opening Day rosters. The Orioles are not alone in their expansion, as every other MLB team has also established academies in the country. Their significant investment in the academy represents a commitment to international expansion. Coming off of a 7% increase in ratings for the 2023 baseball season, investments in the product on the field make sense. Rule changes like installing a pitch clock, enlarging the size of the bases, and restrictions on defensive shifts made the game both quicker and more exciting. The average length of an MLB game dropped almost 20 minutes, from over three hours in 2022 to two hours and 42 minutes in 2023. 


Combine these changes with more international talent produced by premier baseball facilities like the Orioles’ in the Dominican Republic, and the product on the field is sure to improve while increasing fan engagement and viewership.

Comments


bottom of page