SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball’s Trainer Partnership Program wrapped up its three-day international showcase Thursday at Salt River Fields. Next year’s version could be even bigger.
The program, which was created last summer as part of MLB’s overall efforts in Latin America, is expanding to Panama and Colombia in 2020. The program currently includes players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
“We have received a lot of interest from trainers outside of the Dominican and Venezuela that want to participate and we are excited to get that going,” said Morgan Sword, senior vice president of league economics and operations for Major League Baseball. “We are finalizing a schedule of events for next year, which will look a lot like this year with a few tweaks.”
The TPP held its first showcase of the year in January in the Dominican Republic and followed up with another showcase the next month, also in the DR. The program played host to a regional tournament in the Dominican Republic for prospects on the island from April to June. A team of prospects from Venezuela also participated in the tournament and won it. There was another showcase in the Dominican Republic in August.
In all, there are more than 1,024 prospects from the Dominican Republic and 656 prospects from Venezuela registered in the program. There are currently 49 trainers from the Dominican Republic and 31 trainers from Venezuela that participate.
“We are growing quickly, and I think it’s a testament to the value of the program to trainers,” Sword said. “We are starting to see the benefits for players in the program. Clubs feel very confident investing in players who are doing things the right way.”
This week’s Trainer Partnership Program showcase in Arizona featured 116 prospects eligible to sign during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 periods. The event, which featured players from Aruba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama and Venezuela, began Tuesday with the timed 60-yard run, plus infield and outfield drills in front of more than 100 scouts. The prospects were separated into four teams and played eight games during the final two days.
“This is a great experience for all of us here,” said prospect Bryan Acuña, the youngest brother of Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. “Baseball is an important part of life in my family, so I’m very excited to be here to show what I can do. My brothers are professional, and this is something I want to do. I want to be like them.”
Former big league player, manager and coach Tony Peña and White Sox outfielder Eloy Jiménez along with former Major League pitcher Bruce Chen also served as special advisors and coaches.
“These players have been training and have been practicing. We are here to offer advice and make them comfortable in the game,” said Chen. “We want them to learn what to expect and about the things they can do to get better in order to present themselves the right way for scouts. It’s not just about the signing part, we are here to tell them about what comes after you sign and how hard they have to work to achieve their goals and continue to grow and develop in this game.”