Ricardo Rodriguez and José Garcia
The Dominican Republic supplies more players
to Major League Baseball than any other country
outside the U.S. Since the Los Angeles Dodgers
built Campo Las Palmas here in 1976, two dozen
other U.S. teams have opened their own facilities
José Garcia and Ricardo Rodriguez are
among the few elite young men chosen to train
at the Dodgers’ camp near Santo Domingo.
There are at least 35 players who have come
from this camp in the Major League—Pedro
Martinez and Raul Mondesi among them.
One of the Dodgers' scouts is impressed with
the two teenagers. "Ricardo Rodriguez
and José Garcia are two of the best
prospects we have in the camp," he says.
"We believe they will be playing in the
Major Leagues in three years. But their fate
depends exclusively on them."
Baseball is everything to these young men.
The very real prospect of making it in the
U.S. Major Leagues is almost a curse. For
every Pedro Martinez making millions as a
successful ballplayer, there are hundreds
who have never set foot in America, even after
their dreams seemed so near at Campo Las Palmas.
The pressure on the players is enormous.
"This is a test," warns Campo Las
Palmas Director Rafael Avila at an early camp
lecture. "If you fail here, you will
return to your villages broken. Your family’s
future is in your hands."
Ricardo Rodriguez is a shy but disciplined
country boy. The 18-year-old was discovered
in a welding shop by Rafael Gonzalez, a local
baseball scout who noticed that he "had
big muscles in his shoulders and back, and
that his arms hung down to his knees."
"He has the potential to make a lot of
money for someone," says Gonzalez.
José Garcia is a talented and charismatic
player, who splits time between baseball and
"All ballplayers here dream of going
to the U.S.," he says. "The whole
world wants that chance. My dream is to play
in Dodger Stadium."
more about the Dominican Republic and baseball
Garcia sits on the bench