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After honoring MLB's past, Alomar looks to future

Hall of Famer hosting tournament for amateur prospects in P.R.
MLB.com @JesseSanchezMLB

Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar spent the weekend in Cooperstown, celebrating baseball's greats and its storied history.

He returned home to Puerto Rico this week to focus on the game's future.

Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar spent the weekend in Cooperstown, celebrating baseball's greats and its storied history.

He returned home to Puerto Rico this week to focus on the game's future.

Alomar and Major League Baseball have partnered to play host to Puerto Rico 12 (PR12), a showcase tournament for the best 150 amateur prospects on the island that starts on Tuesday in San Juan.

"I am so proud to bring this showcase home to Puerto Rico," said Alomar, who was named MLB's special consultant in Puerto Rico last year. "I know how important something like this is to a player's development, and I am very grateful to the Commissioner's Office for allowing us to do this. There are a lot of ballplayers that are just looking for a chance to show their skills, and PR12 allows them to do that."

The six-team event features a scouting combine in front of MLB scouts and college recruiters, followed by a five-day tournament at the historic Hiram Bithorn Stadium. The players were selected by Alomar Sports Inc. and the Puerto Rico Baseball Federation after six tryouts across the island.

"With Hurricane Maria and all of the devastation, it was really important for Robbie to give back to Puerto Rico and keep baseball alive in Puerto Rico," said Tony Reagins, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball & softball development. "We've had conversations with Robbie for several months about PR12, and when you think about Puerto Rico, and what Robbie has meant to the game and the island, we thought there were a lot of reasons it made sense to support the program on the ground. So far there has been a lot of interest."

The number of players drafted out of Puerto Rico has been steady. Twenty-three players from the island were selected in this year's Draft, 27 in 2017 and 29 in 2016. Houston's Carlos Correa made history in 2012 when he was the first Puerto Rican to be selected first overall.

"There is a long history, and the players that have come out of Puerto Rico, from Roberto Clemente to other greats, speak to the tradition and history of the game," Reagins said. "Now there are guys like Francisco Lindor, Correa and other guys who are household names that started at the grassroots level in Puerto Rico. This tournament is designed to give more opportunities at the grassroots level, so we can identify more players like the stars that have come before them."

Alomar created a similar program in Toronto for the Blue Jays called Tournament 12, and it was his goal to institute the same concept on his island. His latest baseball dream will benefit Puerto Rico's youth the most.

"The long-term goal of the program is to provide better opportunities and more awareness for Puerto Rican-born players," Alomar said. "This could come from playing professional baseball or perhaps going to college. The tournament provides players with an opportunity that was not available when I was their age. I know first-hand how much talent there is on the island, and PR12 will only help to show the baseball world how much talent is here."

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.