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Giants to open Felipe Alou Baseball Academy in Dominican Republic

The complex will have three fields, several bells, and dozens of whistles.

The Giants didn’t blow way past their international budget last year. They signed Lucius Fox for more than their allotted cap, which meant they couldn’t sign anyone for more than $300,000 this July. So it made sense that they would just keep spending, spending, spending on prospects while they were already paying a penalty. They didn’t, Fox isn’t even here anymore, and the best prospects from this signing season all went to the Padres. That seems less than optimal.

However, it’s not like the Giants pocketed the money they didn’t spend on international prospects this year. They spent quite a bit of money on the farm system after all, and they’ll open up the Felipe Alou Baseball Academy, a state-of-the-art baseball facility in Boca Chica next week. Pictures!

From the press release:

The Felipe Alou Baseball Academy will serve as the headquarters of the Giants’ Latin American operations and as the educational training and player development home for the team’s international prospects. The state-of-the-art facility consists of three major league-size playing fields, batting tunnels, pitching mounds, and two substantial buildings. One building contains the clubhouse, gymnasium, training room, offices and conference rooms. The other serves as a residence hall for coaches and staff and up to 73 players. The residential building will feature classrooms, a computer laboratory, dining hall and recreational spaces.

The three playing fields will be named for Giants greats from the Dominican Republic: Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal; the first Dominican player in the major leagues, Osvaldo Virgil; and for the Alou Family in honor of Felipe, Mateo, Jesus and Felipe’s son, Moises. Artwork placed throughout the facility will pay tribute to many other Giants’ greats and to the rich history of Giants baseball in Latin America.

The complex includes a number of sustainable features that take into account the area’s tropical climate and the strong presence of the sun. Fly roofs made of an expanded plastic used in Gore-Tex, provide shade for the buildings, reducing energy costs. Buildings were designed and oriented in relation to the sun’s path and prevailing breeze. In the residential building, rooms are designed with high ceilings to maximize cross-ventilation. The complex uses local materials, including coralina, a limestone used extensively in the Dominican Republic.

I’m pretty sure I would like to spend a week or six there in January, so I’ll make some calls. If you were wondering if this gives the Giants some sort of organizational advantage ... well, no. This is them keeping pace, not being pioneers. Chris Haft talked to Brian Sabean about the facility.

"It's long overdue," Brian Sabean, the Giants' executive vice president of baseball operations, said Monday. "I hate to say it; I think we're the last ones in. This has been a work in progress for a long time. ... We weren't lacking for a place [for international prospects] to play, but we never had the full facility."

Better late than never? Better late than never. The Giants haven’t had an established Dominican pipeline of prospects for decades now — don’t forget that Johnny Cueto was the first Dominican pitcher to win a start for the Giants since Sergio Valdez in 1995 — so this can only help their standing in the international prospect scrum.

Acquiring more of these "prospects" would be an outstanding baseball strategy. Now when they get them, they’ll have a place to play with all the modern amenities. Good work, team.