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.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.