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Showcase spotlights Latin American prospects

Trainer Partnership Program gives scouts unrivaled access to players, data
MLB.com @JesseSanchezMLB

The Trainer Partnership Program continues to make progress on the international scene, and the initiative is expected to expand in 2019.

This week, 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. 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, Dominican Republic.

The Trainer Partnership Program continues to make progress on the international scene, and the initiative is expected to expand in 2019.

This week, 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. 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, Dominican Republic.

Another showcase is scheduled in the coming weeks for prospects from the Dominican Republic who are eligible to sign in future periods, and more showcases are planned for next year.

"We had a great event, with three full days of baseball," said Morgan Sword, senior vice president of league economics and operations for Major League Baseball. "We had the opportunity to discuss the program with the trainers and discuss how it is going in its first couple and had a real positive conversation about future expansion and changes we can make going forward."

The Trainer Partnership Program, a new MLB initiative with trainers from Latin America, was created last summer and it's part of MLB's overall efforts in Latin America. Current programs focus on prospect registration, a temporary prospect league, age and identity verification and drug testing. There are also new tryout rules.

The program showcases, operated in partnership with USA Baseball, provide evaluators an unprecedented scouting experience.

The three-day event in Aruba featured traditional scouting methods, such as the 60-yard run, infield and outfield drills, along with batting practice for the prospects eligible to sign during the current and upcoming the international signing periods. The showcase also used technology during batting practice to measure exit velocity, launch angle, ball spin and projected distance as well as bat speed, barrel speed and other swing analysis metrics. For the pitchers, there was a camera that tracked types of pitches, velocity and spin rate. 

The prospects also played in games against each other.

In all, 19 trainers from Venezuela are participating in the Training Partnership Program, to bring the initiative's total to close to 70 trainers across the Caribbean and Latin America. The most recent event was held in Aruba because of the facilities available there. Club scouts also find it easier to travel to the island than to Venezuela, which is facing an economic crisis and political unrest.

"The trainers told us they were very pleased with how the event was run," said Sword, who traveled from Aruba to Atlanta to brief club owners at their annual meeting. "And they are very interested in continuing events like these, as are the clubs, in 2019. We are early on, but we are on the right track."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.