Major League Baseball's Trainer Partnership Program continues to make strides on the international front.This week, 120 prospects in the program from the Dominican Republic showed off their skills in front of hundreds of Major League scouts at the San Francisco Giants' academy in Boca Chica.The majority of the prospects who
Major League Baseball's Trainer Partnership Program continues to make strides on the international front.
This week, 120 prospects in the program from the Dominican Republic showed off their skills in front of hundreds of Major League scouts at the San Francisco Giants' academy in Boca Chica.
The majority of the prospects who participated in the three-day event will be eligible to sign with Major League teams during the international signing period that starts July 2, 2020, but the showcase also featured pitchers currently eligible to sign as well as pitchers who will be eligible to sign starting July 2, 2019.
The prospects were divided into three teams.
"We had a great event," said Morgan Sword, senior vice president of league economics and operations for Major League Baseball. "The Giants were generous hosts at their beautiful academy in Boca Chica. We had over 200 scouts and several new trainers and players participating as the program continues to expand."
The Trainer Partnership Program, a new MLB initiative with trainers from Latin America, was created last summer. It's part of MLB's overall efforts in Latin America. Current programs also focus on prospect registration, age and identity verification and drug testing.
The Trainer Partnership Program showcases, operated in partnership with USA Baseball, are unique. In addition to traditional infield and outfield drills, the events use technology during batting practice to measure exit velocity, launch angle, ball spin and projected distance as well as bat speed, and barrel speed. A camera is used to track pitch analysis metrics. The 60-yard run is timed with laser sensors.
This week's event featured a tournament format with a championship game, which was held Thursday, for the first time.
"The event was a continuation of one of the key elements of the Partnership Program -- bringing all of the state-of-the-art evaluation tools that have become so common at the Major League level to the international market," Sword said. "In addition to the individual testing that we are completing, we are collecting radar and bar sensor tracking data on the on-field play."
In September, The Trainer Partnership Program held its first event in front of more than 200 scouts at the Chicago Cubs' academy in Boca Chica. Earlier this month, 60 prospects from Venezuela and six prospects from Aruba participated in a showcase in front of 115 scouts from all 30 MLB teams at Stadium Nadi Croes/Crismo Angela in Aruba.
More than 70 trainers from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela are participating in the program and that number is expected to grow.
"We are still getting the Partnership Program on its feet, but we are encouraged by the positive feedback we've received from players and their families, as well as our clubs," Sword said. "We want this to be an inclusive program, and any trainers and players that share our objective of eradicating the use of performance-enhancing substances in our game are invited to join. In 2019, we will continue to expand, including exploring new countries."
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com.