Yesterday we discussed the Astros' opening of a baseball facility in the Dominican for young signees.
“The new complex is a huge step forward in our player development process. The facility will allow us to further the on-field development of our young Latin players along with giving us the opportunities to enhance their diets and provide them with English lessons that will allow them to function at a higher level when they move along the development chain in the United States.”
I had the good fortune a couple of years ago of meeting Tom Moore, Director of International & Professional Scouting for the Detroit Tigers, this weekend's opponent for our fair team. Obviously. Anyhow, what the Astros have done is right in Tom's wheelhouse, as the Tigers have one of MLB's strongest international presences. So I asked him about it.
AC: The Astros just announced that they’re building a baseball complex in the Dominican Republic. How does that help an organization development players coming from DR?
TM: A new facility helps an organization on a number of levels, specifically nutrition, new (and in most cases) updated baseball facilities, more living space as well as operation facilities. Organizations have different priorities when it comes to these new facilities and they will gear their construction that way, such as more emphasis on baseball facilities or more emphasis on living facilities, etc. It also provides the organization with a tool when it comes to selling the organization to the player. Obviously, a more comfortable living and playing environment would attract a player over one that is not as comfortable or did not have the same amenities. The bottom line however is that the regardless of the facility, the organization is still faced with signing and developing ballplayers. Of course a new facility makes that easier, but it is still an enormous ongoing effort to do so and that as you know is the lifeline to the success of your team at the ML level.
AC: What are some of the nutritional aspects of baseball academies? Are teams acclimating the players to hamburgers and “American food,” or are they just ramping up vitamins and general nutrition? And does that include information and knowledge on legal supplements?
TM: (It's) the real basic sense of getting 3 square meals a day. A lot of these players get bigger and stronger quickly after they sign just because they are eating more and in better quality, especially if they are coming from poor backgrounds.
The teams that own their own academies or have control over their food are able to provide their players with that proper nutrition. In addition training staffs may provide the players with protein supplements under the guidelines of MLB. MLB and the organizations take an active role in the education of the good and bad nutrients that players may be exposed to during their careers.
Thanks to Tom for taking time out of his day to answer these questions. It's going to take a while for the Astros to see the benefits of the new facility in the Dominican Republic, but being able to keep a close eye on DR prospects is going to pay off in the long run. And hopefully, unlike his tenure in Philly, Easy Eddie is going to be around to see the fruits of his labor over the last two seasons.