There is a short film about a young, Dominican man named Miguel “Sugar” Santos who moves to Iowa to play in the minor leagues. He dreamed the dream of many young Caribbean-Latino young men; all he wanted was to be a professional baseball player. However, the movie highlights the challenges of being an international player, and the ending is a bleak reality-check of the more likely outcome. Sugar never makes it big, and the audience last sees him playing pickup baseball in an amateur league. Few “Sugars” make it to the minor leagues, and even fewer make it into the MLB. Because of this, some people question Major League Baseball’s relationship with Latin-American countries like the Dominican Republic. Is the MLB good for Latin America?
We had the opportunity to sit down with Joel Araujo, an MLB executive responsible for international player development, to discuss his work overseas. Joel is himself Dominican-American, and his work reflects his commitment to the growth of baseball AND the health of the countries he serves. In the video below (in Spanish), Joel shares his vision for players who become healthy, whole, and active citizens whether they make it to “the Show” or not. Joel is a bridge-builder, a link between two worlds that brings flourishing to both. Listen to this week’s podcast and watch the video below to learn more about Joel’s work supporting the countries he serves.
About Joel Araujo
Joel Araujo is the senior manager of Major League Baseball’s International Talent Development Department where he leads the group’s talent development efforts abroad. Since joining MLB in 2008, he has been involved with nearly every aspect of international baseball operations, from contracts and visas to winter leagues and international talent procurement. He founded the Major League Baseball Amateur Prospect League, which gives Dominican prospects a weekly opportunity to showcase their talents before officials from all 30 MLB Clubs, and the first-ever MLB Elite Development Program for Puerto Rican high school players. He now oversees MLB’s Elite Baseball Development Programs in Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Curacao and South Africa. Araujo also established the MLB International Showcase, an annual event which allows Clubs to view and evaluate the best international amateur talent on the market, as well as the Coach Development Program, a two-week course that trains coaches from around the globe so that they can better develop players in their home countries. MLB now holds multiple showcases in various countries each year (some of which are attended by upwards of 300 Club scouts), and over the last four years, more than 500 coaches from 30 different countries across four continents have completed the coaching curriculum. He continues to work to expand MLB’s baseball development efforts into new markets.