Dominican Baseball as it stands

Posted by & filed under Down on the Farm, DPL News.

The DPL website has had frequent questions asked by guest concerning the process in which a player is procured and the development stages soon after. Here’s a little information for you to know about the Dominican Baseball landscape, I hope this helps answer your questions.

  

Over the last 100 years, baseball in the Dominican Republic has become much more than a national pastime. Ozzie Virgil. Juan Marichal. Sammy Sosa. Pedro Martinez. Albert Pujols. David Ortiz. Robinson Cano. Melky Cabrera. The names of the great players that the Dominican Republic has supplied to Major League Baseball Since 1958, this tiny Caribbean nation, with a population of about 9 million, has sent more than 550 players to the majors, and it produces about a fourth of all players in the U.S. minor leagues.

During the last decade, the baseball industry has consistently expanded in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is second only to the United States in delivering players to Major League Baseball. This season, 95 Dominican players were listed on Major League Baseball Opening Day rosters; the percentage of Major League Baseball players born outside the United States rose to its third-highest level. Among the 856 players on opening day rosters, 243 were born outside the 50 states. The 28.4 percentage is up from 27.7 last year and trails only 2005 (29.2) and 2007 (29.0). Of 7,278 players with minor league contracts, 3,382 were born outside the 50 states. The 46.47 percent figure was down from 47.41 at the start of last season.

Major league teams began to establish academies in the Dominican Republic in the late 1970s. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Toronto Blue Jays were among the first teams to do so. Today every Major League team has a fully functioning professional development facility in Dominican Republic with lodging, meals and education included in the day to day baseball activities. Academies are official farm teams for major league organizations located on the island as the first professional league Dominican players will experience is the rookie level Dominican Summer League.

Practically at birth, Dominican boys are enticed by the dream of a professional career in baseball. Many perceive this as their only opportunity to escape a life of poverty. All teams have a full scouting department scouring the island for potential Major League talent. Prospects that are selected to sign contracts get both a salary and a signing bonus. Since high school baseball is nonexistent on the island, the Dominican Prospect League lends a helping hand to identify talent for MLB organizations, providing a weekly venue for scouts to evaluate players during the year, as well as, videos, reports and showcases that create a more functional evaluation process. International players must be at least 16 years old to sign a professional contract; July 2 is the first day that MLB teams can sign 16-year-old international free-agent prospects that will NOT turn 17 years old by Sept. More than 300 players are signed in Latin America per year, most being Dominican born. Once an MLB organization signs a player in the Dominican Republic, the player is immediately inserted into the team facility to develop and prepare both physically and mentally, for the responsibilities and demands of playing professional baseball. Once he proves he is ready to make the transition, the player is sent to the United States to the team’s minor league Spring Training facility, where he starts his quest through the minor league system. (Rookie League, High Rookie League, Low Class A, High Class A, Double A, Triple A) before making it to the Major Leagues. This development process takes an average of 5 years.

The DPL evaluates and recruits more than 150 of the top Dominican amateur players every year from 4 different regions in the country (North, South, East, and Central) to play in a 25-game season, including players from Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Curacao, Cuba, and Panama. The DPL is not an academy, we have baseball events throughout the year providing players the opportunity to be scouted by MLB organizations. Games are played once per week at a different MLB facility in the Dominican Republic. All games are officiated by professional umpires and stats keepers. Rosters vary from week to week, as only the most talented players will be asked to remain in the League. The principle goal of the Dominican Prospect League (DPL) has been to help protect the long-term health and growth of the amateur baseball industry in the Dominican Republic by implementing a new process for evaluating and signing amateur talent on the island and throughout Latin America. In successfully revolutionizing the industry, the DPL has established itself as the premier amateur baseball prospect league in Latin America. In less than 3 years, the DPL has helped over 200 players sign contracts for an aggregate total of approximately US$40,000,000 in contracts. These DPL alumni will undoubtedly become the future stars of Major League Baseball, the Dominican Republic and Latin America. The Dominican Prospect League has been featured in the United States press by Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Major League Baseball, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Baseball America, and HD Net’s Dan Rather reports. The official Dominican Prospect League website (www.dplbaseball.com) has had more than 3 million hits from visitors from across the globe. The League is operated by Fundacion Dominican Prospect League, a registered non-profit entity established by the laws of the Dominican Republic.

Visit our menu tab “DPL ALUMNI” for some of our past signings (Names- Teams) and “SCOUTS CORNER” for information on players eligible to sign come July 2.

Outlining New Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) International Rules For 2012-13

With July 2 weeks away, baseball officials are still operating without finalized language of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but teams do have an outline of the new rules for international amateur signings.

By now, players who will be old enough to sign on July 2 must have registered with Major League Baseball by May 1. Otherwise they will have to wait until July 2, 2013, to sign. Players who were already eligible to sign—mostly anyone 17 or older, or anyone born before September 1995—do not have to register, but if they sign after July 2, their bonuses will count against a team’s bonus pool.

Until July 2, teams can spend whatever they want on international bonuses and none if it will count against their bonus pool. After that, the new spending rules will be in effect.

Every team has a $2.9 million signing bonus pool for the 2012-13 signing period. Any team that spends more than $2.9 million will be subject to a variety of penalties:

• Teams that go 0-5 percent over will pay a 75 percent tax on the overage.
• Teams that go 5-10 percent over will pay the 75 percent tax on the overage and won’t be able to sign any player for a bonus of more than $500,000 in the 2013-14 signing period.
• Teams that go 10-15 percent over will pay a 100 percent tax on the overage and won’t be able to sign any player for a bonus of more than $500,000 in the 2013-14 signing period.
• Teams that go 15 percent or more over will pay a 100 percent tax on the overage and won’t be able to sign any player for a bonus of more than $250,000 in the 2013-14 signing period.

The 2012-13 signing period begins July 2, 2012 and ends June 15, 2013. The dates from June 16, 2013 through July 1, 2013 will be considered a “closed period” when no one will be able to sign. MLB said it will need time to calculate each team’s total spending and potential penalties. Also, due to the new mandatory registration system, the commissioner’s office will need time to prepare and disseminate information about registered players to clubs.

The $2.9 million bonus pool does have a few exemptions that will allow a team to spend a little bit more. A team’s six highest signing bonuses of $50,000 or less will not count toward its total. For 2012-13, players signed for $7,500 or less also won’t count (in 2013-14 that number goes up to $10,000). So there’s enough wiggle room to spend up to $3.2 million without facing any penalties. All players must sign a standard minor league contract, so no major league deals are allowed.

The bonus pool limits probably won’t affect the majority of teams, because only a handful have gone well beyond $2.9 million-$3.2 million in 2011 or in 2010. Teams like the Rangers, Blue Jays, Royals, Pirates and Cubs may have to scale back, but even those teams will have to make small adjustments rather than drastic changes.

The international signing pool includes any player not subject to the draft, which includes anyone from outside the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico—with a couple of exemptions. One is that any player who had previously signed with a major league club will not be subject to the bonus pool. It’s a corollary to the draft rule, where if a player has already signed with a team out of the draft, he’s no longer draft eligible and any contract he signs thereafter will not count against an organization’s draft bonus pool. So a Dominican player released out of Triple-A who signs as a minor league free agent won’t have his contract count against his new team’s international pool.

The other exemption involves players coming to MLB from foreign professional leagues. Players who are at least at least 23 and have played five years in a recognized professional league, such as Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, will be exempt.

For the next two years, Cubans will be exempt as long as they are 23 and have played in a Cuban professional league for at least three seasons. Beginning in 2014-15 Cubans must have five years of pro experience to be exempt. So if Yoenis Cespedes had still been unsigned by July 2, he would have been exempt from the new rules anyway, where 20-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler will be subject to the new rules unless he can get all of his paperwork pushed through and sign before July 2.

One area of confusion among international scouts is how the league will treat Mexican League transfers, including players like Blue Jays righthander Roberto Osuna and Pirates righthander Luis Heredia, who were acquired from their Mexican League teams at 16 years old.

According to an MLB official, the league will count only the amount that goes to the player against the team’s bonus pool. Typically, that is 25 percent of what a major league team pays to a Mexican League to purchase his rights. So a club paying $400,000 to a Mexican League team for a player would only have $100,000 count against its pool. The rule applies to Mexican citizens only, the official said, so teams can’t send a Dominican or Venezuelan player to a Mexican League team to try to get around the new bonus rules.

MLB officials have said that any team that attempts to circumvent the new signing regulations to get around the bonus limit will be subject to severe penalties.

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