Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association today formally announced the creation of the Puerto Rico Summer League, which began play on June 3rd. The two parties announced the details of the league during a press conference this afternoon at the El San Juan Hotel in Carolina, Puerto Rico, which included Rob Manfred, MLB's Chief Operating Officer; Tony Clark Executive Director of the MLBPA; Hector O'Neill, Mayor of Guaynabo; Jose G. Rodriguez, Mayor of Mayaguez; Kim Ng, MLB's Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations; Jorge Perez Diaz, Esq., MLB Advisor, International Operations; Bobby Bonilla, MLBPA Special Assistant, Player Services, Events/Players Trust; Jose Cruz, Jr., MLBPA Special Assistant; Javier Vazquez, MLBPA International Special Assistant; Carlos Delgado, former All-Star first baseman; Candy Maldonado, former Major League outfielder; and Alex Cora, former Major League infielder.
The Puerto Rico Summer League is a joint initiative that MLB and the MLBPA created to support the collective commitment of both organizations to the development of youth baseball in Puerto Rico. The newly-created league will give Puerto Rican players between the ages of 14 and 17 more opportunities to play baseball during the summer. The league, consisting of two four-team divisions, will run for eight weeks in June and July in the cities of Guaynabo and Mayaguez. In Guaynabo, games will be held at Estadio Moises A. Garcia Quintana, which has hosted free one-day umpire camps in each of the last two years, while games in Mayaguez will be played at Isidoro Garcia Stadium. Each division's four teams will hold professional style practices at each of the facilities, with two games played at each site on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Players for the league were selected through tryouts conducted throughout the island in conjunction with the various leagues in Puerto Rico.
Among the coaches who will participate in the summer league are Jorge Aranzamendi; Edwin Cintron; Pedro Ethier; Abdiel Figueroa; Fernando Figueroa; Fernando Gonzalez; Ivan Maldonado; Julio Martinez; Witito Martinez; Josue Matos; Luis Matos; Orlando Mercado; Angel Molina; Mako Oliveras; Johnny Pagan; Jayson Perez; Luis Raul Quinonez; Jose Luis Rodriguez; Victor Rodriguez; Omar Rosado; and Alexander Woodson. Of the 21 coaches, 16 have instructed at the MLB Development Program, an after-school training program in Puerto Rico for high school athletes that launched in May.
"For decades, the island of Puerto Rico has left an enduring imprint on the diversity of our game," said Manfred. "Major League Baseball remains dedicated to providing ample opportunities for the youth of Puerto Rico to participate in the game year round. In the spirit of our other local programs, such as the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and the Passed Over Showcase, the Puerto Rico Summer League will serve as an immense resource for those players who wish to remain on the field during the summer months, while also presenting the Major League Clubs with an additional outlet for scouting."
"Increasing and advancing playing opportunities for young players is a priority of active Major Leaguers, in general, and Puerto Rican players, in particular, especially opportunities that provide young players with expert coaching and training," said Clark. "Puerto Rico has produced some of the greatest players to have played our great game, and the creation of the new summer league honors previous generations of Puerto Rican Major Leaguers and provides a new path for future generations to follow."