Dodgers to reopen renovated Dominican academy

Dodgers to reopen renovated Dominican academy

SAN ANTONIO GUERRA, Dominican Republic -- Commissioner Rob Manfred, Dodgers chairman Mark Walter and president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina will attend Tuesday's dedication of the Dodgers' renovated and expanded state-of-the-art baseball academy, Campo Las Palmas.

The O'Malley Dodgers were the first Major League team to build such a year-round facility 30 years ago, and it's been a race to find and develop talent in the region ever since. Now, the Dodgers are making a renewed commitment to the region.

Current team owners, Guggenheim Baseball Management, having maxed out the allowable funds for international signing bonuses until next year, redirected resources to make Campo Las Palmas a training showplace once again. The renovations include the purchase of adjacent land to expand the footprint to 70 acres with nearly 100,000 square feet of offices, dorms, clubhouses, classrooms and the Tommy Lasorda Dining Room.

Senior vice president of planning and development Janet Marie Smith spent more than two years fully upgrading original buildings and constructing new ones to accommodate 96 players and 24 staff. Fields and rooms are not only named after legendary players -- such as the Roy Campanella Clubhouse, Jackie Robinson Hall and Manny Mota and Pedro Guerrero Fields -- but also for Hall of Fame owner Walter O'Malley and executives Ralph Avila and Luchy Binet Guerra. Three rooms are named after the Martinez brothers -- Ramon, Pedro and Jesus.

Avila, who was the club's Latin American coordinator, oversaw construction of the original Campo Las Palmas at the direction of the late general manager Al Campanis, who realized the wealth of baseball talent in the Dominican Republic. Guerra was a specialist in visa administration and surrogate mother for many players living away from home for the first time.

Avila, now a senior scouting advisor for the team, will attend Tuesday's dedication, as will executives Stan Kasten, Lon Rosen, Andrew Friedman, Sam Fernandez, Smith, and player development director Gabe Kapler.

Hall of Fame Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, who has three classrooms at the complex named after him, will emcee the event.

The Dodgers once were dominant in the Dominican, but now all 30 teams have a presence there as the competition for talent in the Caribbean and South America has ramped up over time. A new complex on the island typically costs between $5 million and $10 million to build.

The renovation included new plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning. It took a year of planning and two years of work, with the club relocating training to a vacant facility nearby.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.