Life in a Dominican baseball academy

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When baseball in the Dominican Republic is mentioned, stories of kids using milk bottles for gloves, shady dealings with Buscones and unscrupulous scouts, and the spectre of easily-available PEDs are often soon to follow. There’s another side to that, however, and it’s a side none of us ever really hear much about:

Living in a high quality hotel and school 6 days a week, 10 months
of the year, boys from the Dominican Republic and Latin America
practice baseball.

At the San Diego Padre’s Baseball Academy, tucked away outside of
San Cristobal, these boys learn more than just baseball. Giving these
boys 16.5 years old and older an opportunity to develop in many ways,
the academy gives the players found by scouts a rounded education. They
spend a few hours a day practicing baseball and then they go to their
other classes. English and computer skills are two of the main
curriculums taught in order to make a submersion into American culture
easier when they get signed on with a team, the ultimate goal.

I’m sure there are pros and cons of the academies themselves — and this story, coming as it does from the Dominican Today could be an exercise in mild propaganda — but it’s interesting all the same. Most interesting is the photo gallery, which can be found here.

Padres to recall Luis Urías

Luis Urias
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The Padres are set to recall top infield prospect Luis Urías from Triple-A El Paso, according to a report from Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. It’ll be the second such stint for the club’s no. 2 prospect, and one they hope to extend through the end of the season. A corresponding roster move will be announced later this weekend.

Urías, 22, struggled in his first promotion to the majors this April. Touted as “one of the Minors’ better pure hitters” with “innate bat-to-ball skills” and “plus on-base skills,” he found it difficult to adjust to big league pitching and slashed a lackluster .083/.241/.125 with just two hits and four walks over 11 games with the Padres.

Upon his return to Triple-A, however, the young middle infielder has delivered nothing short of spectacular results, batting .315/.398/.600 with 19 home runs, seven stolen bases (in nine chances), and a .998 OPS across 339 plate appearances. Given the additional measures he’s taken to improve his mechanics — something, Acee says, the Padres are far more interested in than his results at the plate — it seems he may be ready to handle the competition at the highest level on a long-term basis.

Urías is expected to be recalled in time for the Padres’ game against the Cubs on Saturday, where he’ll likely share the middle infield with fellow top prospect Fernando Tatís. The game is set for 2:20 PM EDT.