Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred stood on the mound with a microphone on one of the fields at the Dodgers’ academy in the Dominican Republic and delivered an inspiring message to the prospects participating in this week’s Trainer Partnership Program Showcase.
His voice echoed throughout the complex. It resonated with the teens in attendance.
“You have an opportunity to be part of a great tradition of Venezuelan and Dominican players becoming part of Major League Baseball and some of our biggest stars,” Manfred said. “The Trainer Partnership Program is the best training you can get in the Dominican Republic. Absolutely the best.”
The Trainer Partnership Program was created last summer as part of MLB’s overall efforts in Latin America and has held events for prospects from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela since the program began. Among its many initiatives, the program includes a focus on prospect education regarding health and the safe development of players, including the avoidance of PED use.
In all, there are more than 1,100 prospects from the Dominican Republic and more than 600 prospects from Venezuela participating in the Trainer Partnership Program. There are currently 45 trainers from the Dominican Republic and 28 trainers from Venezuela participating in the program, and the number keeps growing.
“We hope all of you have an opportunity to play in the big leagues ultimately, but there are two important things that don’t relate just to baseball that I want to mention to you today,” Manfred said. “Whether you become a Major Leaguer or not, education is crucial. There are educational programs available to all of you, and you should take advantage of those educational programs. They’ll make you a better player and a better person.
“Secondly, avoid performance-enhancing drugs. You cannot be successful over the long haul with the use of these drugs. They’re bad for you, and they ultimately will be bad for your career.”
This week’s showcase featured 107 players from the Dominican Republic and 47 from Venezuela. The prospects played in six games during the three-day event, the latest in a series of showcases for international teens.
The Trainer Partnership Program Showcase generally includes a 60-yard run, infield and outfield drills, batting practice and games. The events have also used cameras to measure exit velocity, launch angle, ball spin and projected distance as well as bat speed and barrel speed. Types of pitches, velocity and spin rate were also recorded.
Earlier this summer, a team of prospects from Venezuela won the inaugural Trainer Partnership Program’s Regional Tournament.