Brazilian Baseball

Brazilians may one day join other Latin Americans as top major league baseball players if an academy to be opened by the Tampa Bay Rays in Marilia is successful. “We feel Brazil can be a real hotbed for baseball talent,” Rays’ Senior Vice President Gerry Hunsicker said on Tuesday at a news conference to announce the Rays would be the first Major League Baseball team to open a training camp in Brazil.
Andres Reiner, a Rays’ special assistant, said there was no reason why Brazil could not produce top baseball players since the country has champion athletes in sports such as soccer, basketball, tennis, volleyball and motor racing.
“I an convinced there is a tremendous potential there. We need to teach the youngsters because they don’t know the game,” Reiner said.
No Brazilian has ever played Major League Baseball but a few have played in the minor leagues.
The Rays recently signed their first Brazilian player, 19-year old Leonardo Reginatto, who plays in Venezuela.
Baseball is mainly played in the southern half of Brazil where it is popular among the country’s Japanese community.
The Marilia academy will be similar to those the Rays and other major leagues teams have in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
The $750,000 facility will have four baseball fields and dormitory rooms for 40 players. Two of the fields will be used to coach young Brazilians between the ages of six and 13.
Marilia Mayor Mario Bulgarelli said he was happy to have the academy in his city of 250,000, which is about 230 miles northwest of Sao Paulo.
“Marilia can be the center to develop baseball,” Bulgarelli said through a translator as he signed an agreement with the Rays for the academy.

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