The Dominican Republic Sports & Education Academy will be holding tryouts at Southern University on Jan. 16 for its DRSEA Summer Baseball Experience, a one-month pilot project in the Dominican Republic in summer 2016, involving baseball players from the United States who are currently sophomores or juniors in high school.
The tryouts will be held at the baseball facilities at Southern University, 801 Harding Blvd., Baton Rouge, beginning at 10 a.m., but prospects should arrive for registration at 9:30 a.m.
Potential prospects will be tested on an array of skills, including hitting and fielding, as well as position skills. Players must provide their own transportation, baseball shoes, glove and practice clothes.
Players will be hand-selected by a panel of experts based on baseball skills and academic standing and invited to participate in the project, where they will receive baseball instruction from some of the top coaches in the Dominican Republic, including clinics conducted by Major League Baseball.
The participants also will receive SAT and ACT preparation and Spanish lessons.
All tryouts will receive a professional evaluation. However, participation in the tryout is not a guarantee of selection for or participation in the DRSEA Summer Program.
Once selected, participation in the program is free of charge, but there is a $25 registration fee to participate in the tryouts.
While tryouts are open to all sophomores and juniors, in part, the project is intended to bring more attention to the scarcity of black baseball players, a news release said.
After peaking in the 1980s, the number of black players in Major League Baseball steadily declined, and currently, black players comprise just 8.3 percent of MLB rosters. The statistics are even worse at the college level, where only 2 percent of the players are black, the release said.
The fact that MLB is targeting college players over high school prospects further narrows the pool in reducing the number of black players in the big leagues. Conversely, the number of players of Latin descent continues to increase, currently making up 28 percent of MLB rosters, according to the release.
The Dominican Republic leads the way, trailed only by the U.S. in producing MLB players, with 86 players on 2015 opening day rosters. Not only do all 30 MLB teams run academies in the Dominican Republic to train local players, most import players to the Dominican Republic from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Panama and other Latin American countries.
“The huge presence of Major League Baseball in the Dominican Republic attests to the amount of talent in the country and the success of so many Dominican players, in large part due to the country’s solid baseball infrastructure,” said Samuel A. Brooks, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the DRSEA. “From the infrastructure perspective, the Dominican Republic has a rich tradition of baseball players, excellent fields and instructors, and baseball is an integral part of the culture. It is the national sport of the country.”
Preregistration is available at subr.edu.