You need big time facilities to attract big time players; that’s exactly what the Seattle Mariners are trying to do with the opening of a new baseball academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic.
This move positions the Mariners to develop young Dominican talent, while enhancing their chances of signing those players, as they become Major League ready. The complex is a 24-acre gem, as it should be with a $7 million price tag. It can house up to 80 Dominican prospects – providing a dining hall, classrooms and computer labs for the up and coming players. This gives the prospects not only a great baseball experience, but also gives them the necessary education they need to adapt to a new language and culture once they come to the U.S.
It’s important for the Seattle to establish a good base in the Dominican Republic, considering a good chunk of Major League players come from the central region of North America, one of those players being new Mariner Robinson Cano. The Dominican prospects got to watch Cano take batting practice at the new facility. Cano’s offseason home is a short 10-minute drive from the academy.
My favorite part of the new complex is that the main field has the same fence dimensions as Safeco Field. It brings a little Seattle to the Dominican Republic and makes the prospects feel that much closer to reaching the Major Leagues. The Mariners even had the choice to share the facility and split the costs with another Major League club, but instead opted to keep it for themselves. The fields are named after former Mariner greats Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Alvin Davis.
Back in the U.S., the Mariners are enjoying their revamped spring training facility. The Mariners and Padres have shared the same facility in Peoria, Ariz. for the past 20 years. The improvements, at the tune of about $15.5 million for the Mariners clubhouse, have increased the size of the building 35,700 square feet to 56,368. The improvements give the Mariners the much-needed space they need after being a bit crammed in their old clubhouse. Expansion and renovations have been made to the locker room, dining area, weight room, training area and hydrotherapy room.
The renovated facilities, which first opened in 1994, is part of a 20-year lease extension to keep the Mariners and Padres in the oldest spring training ballpark in the West Valley. These changes to their spring training facility puts the Mariners more on par with the rest of league in terms of up to date spaces. Major and Minor League players for the Mariners should now get a more first class experience as they continue to go through workouts during spring training.