D-backs executives head to Dominican Republic for two major events

Luis Gonzalez inducted into Latino Baseball Hall of Fame after D-backs Host First-Ever Graduation Ceremony for Prospects

PHOENIX - The Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks, @LosDbacks) will send a contingent of high-ranking executives, led by President & CEO Derrick Hall, on a four-day trip to the Dominican Republic this weekend to participate in a pair of significant events.

On Friday, the D-backs will host a graduation ceremony at 10:30 a.m. local time at their academy in Boca Chica, where the first four graduates of the program will receive their diplomas from Hall and Sr. Vice President of Human Resources, Marian Rhodes. The program, which is believed to be the first of its kind, ensures that every player signed to play at the academy receives a high-school education regardless of whether or not he advances in his baseball career.

The program stemmed from a promise made by Hall to the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, in 2013 that the team would provide the youth of his country with the best education among all 30 franchises. The players are required to attend school two days per week for four hours each day, with weekly evaluations by the academy's education staff. Each student is provided with a laptop computer and the team covers the cost of tuition for each player, even if he is released and no longer playing with the organization.

"We know that not every player will reach the big leagues or even make it to the United States as a prospect," said Hall. "But once they sign with the D-backs they are afforded the opportunity to get an education."

On Saturday, the D-backs contingent will be on hand as legend Luis Gonzalez is inducted into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, Nomar Garciaparra, Ozzie Guillen and Roberto Kelly. The ceremony will take place at the Altos de Chavón Amphitheatre at Casa de Campo in La Romana.

"We are so proud of Gonzo for this tremendous honor," said Hall. "His contributions on and off the field have left a mark on the history of the game of baseball and make him very deserving of his place in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame."

One of the most popular figures in Arizona Diamondbacks history because of the way he interacted with fans and his game-winning single in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series to give the organization its first World Championship, Gonzalez is entering his sixth full season as a Special Assistant to Hall. Gonzalez rejoined the organization in August 2009 after officially retiring as a player following his 19-year Major League career and had his No. 20 retired by the team in 2010.

Gonzalez compiled a .283 batting average, 2,591 hits, 354 home runs and 1,439 RBI during his career with the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins and D-backs. His 596 career doubles rank 15th in baseball history. The five-time All-Star retired as the D-backs all-time leader in games played (1,194), hits (1,337), doubles (310), home runs (224), walks (650), runs (780), RBI (774), at-bats (4,488), total bases (2,373), slugging percentage (.529) and on-base percentage (.391).