O's unveil plans for new Dominican facility

March 23rd, 2021

Just a few weeks after general manager Mike Elias took the reins of the Orioles' baseball operations department in late 2018, plans to upgrade the team’s training facilities in the Dominican Republic began to hatch. Given the increased importance such sites hold in attracting top Latin American talent, doing so jibed with Elias’ overall vision of committing the O's to the market in ways they hadn’t in decades.

That vision is now closer to reality than ever. On Tuesday, the Orioles announced plans to develop a 22 1/2-acre state-of-the-art training academy in Guerra, Dominican Republic, a multimillion-dollar endeavor that represents their latest sizable investment in Latin America under Elias. The complex will house the club's Dominican player-development operations, three full fields, a turfed agility field, batting and pitching tunnels and more, according to the team.

The project is set to begin construction this summer, and it will take roughly 12-16 months to complete.

“We have made tremendous strides over the last couple of years in establishing our international presence and revamping our baseball operations infrastructure, and this project may be the most momentous step yet,” Elias said in a statement. “International scouting and player development are critical to the future success of the Orioles, and baseball as a whole. This new academy will be the Latin American home of the Orioles, and once completed, we expect it to be one of the finest training facilities in the Dominican.”

Baltimore's farm system has grown into a top-rated program in recent years, in part due to its recent foray into the international market under Elias and international scouting director Koby Perez, who came from the Indians as one of Elias’ first hires. They’ve brought in consecutive record international classes -- measured by size and investment -- during the past two signing periods. Their most recent included the first two seven-figure bonuses given to amateur Latin players in club history, with No. 28 prospect Samuel Basallo and No. 22 Maikol Hernandez receiving $1.3 million and $1.2 million, respectively.

The O’s spent roughly $5.75 million on their 2020-21 international class, one of the highest figures in baseball.

“This complex will play a vital role in our ability to attract international talent to the organization, but the impact will extend far beyond the field,” Perez said in a statement. “The young players we recruit and sign will learn valuable life skills off the field, including leadership, civic and community service, English as a second language and basic American culture. These development opportunities will serve them well for the rest of their lives.”

The Orioles' current facility, in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, has been in use since 2008. Perez said the new facility will provide twice the capacity, allowing the club to house more than 100 players and provide prospects with a year-round training site. Elias said the O's used the Indians’ nearby facility, which opened in '19, as a model. Baltimore's new digs will also feature three classrooms, a computer lab and a dining room.

“This has been a priority for us, laying down infrastructure, laying down a foundation for a pipeline that can continually produce young talent,” Elias said. “This is a big part of that.”