The Purpose of the Dominican Academy


This weekend my brother heads back to college for his senior year, so tonight I decided to make pizza for the whole family before he heads back this weekend.  Armed with a pizza stone, some gourmet recipes, and an idea from my best friend to grill the pizzas on the pizza stone, I was ready to make some awesome pizzas.

The first offering had caramelized onions, blue cheese crumbles, and a ton of arugula on top.  The second pizza was a basic Margherita pizza: mozzarella slices, tomatoes, and fresh basil.  The third pizza had ricotta cheese, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and grilled chicken.  For dessert: a pizza with Nutella, sliced strawberries, and fresh mint leaves.

While I was making the pizzas tonight, I was thinking about two things.  First, I was thinking about the downside of grilling pizzas in the evening: everyone is inside digging in while you’re working on the next pizza.  Second, I was thinking about Luis Heredia and the Dominican Academy.

For awhile we’ve heard about the Dominican Academy the Pirates have built, and how the $5 M investment to build the place needs to show some value.  Often, big names like Heredia are mentioned as being a potential statement for the Dominican academy.  Yet, after Heredia was signed, it was announced that he would go to Bradenton, where he will most likely play in the Gulf Coast League.

Are the Pirates missing a prime chance to show off the teachings of their Dominican academy?  Or are people off base when they think that the purpose of the Dominican academy is to lure in big name players?

I’m kind of a pizza snob.  I can make it myself, and what I make is much better than any restaurant, and the same price or cheaper.  That said, there is a local place I go to quite often, as their pizza is just like New York pizza.  I was thinking about this when thinking about Heredia and the Dominican academy.

The purpose of the Dominican academy is to develop players.  Heredia doesn’t need any development from that academy.  Any development needed for Heredia can be done in Pirate City.  The Dominican academy is kind of like my kitchen.  You add the raw ingredients to the kitchen, and you see if you can turn them in to something great.  Putting Heredia in the Dominican academy would be like bringing home a pizza from the local pizza place, and putting it in the oven.  The pizza is already made.  Putting it in the oven, or “the academy”, does nothing, and makes no statement about the academy.

The success of the Dominican Academy will revolve around guys like Yunior Montero, Miguel DeAza, or Yunior Aquiles.  These are the lesser known international prospects signed by the Pirates this year, or the “raw ingredients” if you will.  The Pirates prove nothing by adding a top player like Heredia and having him in the academy.  It’s like bringing a pizza home from a local restaurant and putting it in the oven for a few more minutes.  The success of the Dominican Academy will come from taking those raw ingredients and turning them in to a product that is just as good as Heredia, or even better.

The Pirates need some success from the Dominican Academy, but that has nothing to do with signing a big name like Heredia.  The Dominican Academy exists to try and accomplish this task of taking the relatively unknown player and turning them in to a legit prospect.  The Pirates paid $2.6 M for Heredia.  That will provide a big boost to the farm system, but at a cost.  The Pirates can afford to sign guys like Heredia, but at the same time it would be great if they could also produce prospects out of guys who signed for five figures and developed in the Dominican Academy.  That’s the only way to make a statement about the worth and effectiveness of the Dominican Academy, as that’s the purpose of the academy.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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