Major League Baseball (MLB) has furthered its efforts to develop the sport outside of North America by joining forces with its players’ union (MLBPA) to launch a new summer league in Puerto Rico.
The US Caribbean island has a baseball tradition, producing legends such as Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda in the past. However, only 11 Puerto Rican players were present on MLB rosters for this season’s opening day, compared to 34 in 2005.
“We all know that Puerto Rico has a great baseball tradition,” MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred said, according to the Associated Press news agency. “We also know that great traditions need to be tended or else they deteriorate.”
The Puerto Rico Summer League is targeted at players aged 14-17. It will have two four-team divisions and will run for eight weeks in June and July in the San Juan suburb of Guaynabo and the western city of Mayaguez.
Manfred added that the MLB and MLBPA are committed to strengthening the sport in Puerto Rico. “There is no place outside of the States that we have spent more time and effort than Puerto Rico,” he said. “It has really been at the top of our list in terms of developing a program to reinvigorate the development of players.”