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Jim Furtado
Founder & Publisher
Editor - Baseball Primer


Venezuela Newsbeat

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

In Venezuela, the difficult search for the next José Altuve

In 1998, around 20 Venezuelans were playing in the MLB. In 2014, they numbered almost 100.

In those 16 years, Santana and Félix Hernández won three Cy Young Awards between them; Cabrera won the Triple Crown and was twice named MVP; Ordóñez, Altuve, Cabrera and Carlos González won six batting titles; García, Santana, Hernández and Aníbal Sánchez had the lowest ERA during seven different seasons; and Francisco Rodríguez smashed Bobby Thigpen’s saves record.

Ordóñez, Altuve, Valbuena and many others would never have even signed if it weren’t for the academies.

But the boom of the schools has dwindled in the past 15 years. Less than a quarter of the original teams still have a presence in the country. The Venezuelan Summer League is down to just four teams: the Phillies, Tigers, Cubs and Rays. A fifth team, the Twins, still has an academy but doesn’t participate in the league.

“We are left vulnerable to what’s happening in Venezuela, like everyone else,” said a member of one of those teams who asked to remain anonymous. “We are also affected by insecurity and scarcity.”

The land of Luis Aparicio suffers from the highest inflation rate in the world, at about 100 percent, according to independent economists (the Central Bank of Venezuela hasn’t delivered its monthly figures since the end of 2014). The crime rate, especially murders in low-income areas, is among the highest on the planet.




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