The Next Prospect Hotbed: Brazil
Teams are always looking for the next promised land, whether its a new hot spot in the Dominican Republic, Taiwan or, in the case of the Tampa Bay Rays, South America. According to this article from MLB.com, the Rays are dumping a whopping $6.5 million over the next five years to start a baseball academy and develop young talent in the South American country.
From a numbers perspective, it looks like a smart move. Brazil has an incredible 190 million citizens, and the country is the world's biggest exporter of top tier soccer talent. And while the Rays may only be able to target some 4,000 Brazilians, that could be a significant start and a leg up for the Rays in a truly untapped frontier.
Then again, you don't have to take my word for it. Just listen to this somewhat less than tactful line from Tampa Bay special director of development Andres Reiner.
"Brazil has been good at producing athletes. Brazil has a lot of people, millions of young people and not everyone can play soccer. If they aren't good soccer players they can be good baseball players."
There's another advantage to the relatively low cost obstacles of getting started in a country like Brazil: the team expects to have the facility up and running as soon as the late summer, as construction is scheduled to begin in July.
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