PANTOJA, Dominican Republic (AP) -The Pittsburgh Pirates are considering building a new training academy in the Dominican Republic in an effort to attract more of the country's top prospects.
The team's owners and general manager Dave Littlefield ended a four-day visit to the country on Tuesday, saying they want to increase their presence there.
``We are investing more money in signing prospects because we want to achieve more here in the Dominican Republic,'' team chairman Bob Nutting told The Associated Press.
The Pirates currently boast several Dominican players, including third baseman Jose Bautista.
But it is a small share of the talent produced by this developing country of 9.2 million. Many of those players rise up through major league-owned baseball academies that line the south coast.
The Pirates operate training facilities in the country, but they are badly outshined by many other clubs. While the Pittsburgh crew was visiting an isolated practice field Tuesday, the New York Mets were breaking ground on a new $7.5 million academy just a few miles to the south in the beach resort of Boca Chica.
The Pirates are considering building a new full-time academy as well, said assistant general manager Louie Eljaua.
``That is something that is in our plans. Maybe not immediately, but it is something that you cannot rule out,'' he said.
Meanwhile, Littlefield said, the Pirates will keep looking for tomorrow's Dominican stars.
``We are looking at everything, because we know how important the presence of Dominican players is to a team like ours,'' he said.
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