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Dominican Baseball Players
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 as well.

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

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

José Garcia is a talented and charismatic player, who splits time between baseball and five girlfriends.

"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."

Learn more about the Dominican Republic and baseball >



José Garcia sits on the bench

Ricardo Rodriguez plays ball

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