SANTO DOMINGO, DR - Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow today made two announcements from the Astros Academy in the Dominican Republic that will further bolster the organization's efforts to find and develop international talent.
Luhnow announced that the Astros will be adding a second club to the Dominican Summer League, and that Carlos Alfonso, a former pitcher, manager and coach in the Astros farm system, has been named international development coordinator and special assignment scout. Alfonso primarily will be responsible for integrating the Astros Latin American development program and providing scouting support internationally.
Luhnow is currently in Santo Domingo with Astros International Director Oz Ocampo, Minor League Field Coordinator Paul Runge, Infield Instructor and former Astro Adam Everett and Hitting Coordinator Jeff Albert.
"This investment is a reflection of the importance of our Latin American scouting and development program to the future success of the Astros," Luhnow said. "Oz and his team have done a great job of signing top young talent across Latin America and we want to provide them the opportunity to get the best development experience. Adding a second team along with the expertise of Carlos Alfonso will accelerate the development process."
Alfonso has close to 45 years of experience in professional baseball as an infielder, pitcher, coach, manager, director and more. Most recently, he served as the Tampa Bay Rays director of international operations for the past eight seasons (2006-13). He began his playing career in the Astros minor league system after being selected in the 10th round of the 1968 June Draft. His playing career included stints as an infielder, but he was primarily a pitcher during his eight-year minor league career. After his playing days, Alfonso had stints in the Astros minor league system as a manager, coach and spring training coordinator, and later served as a coach on the San Francisco Giants Major League staff as pitching coach in 1992, and then as first base coach from 1996-99.
The Astros have been training at their current Dominican Academy since its opening on May 10, 2010. A recent graduates from the Academy includes right-handed pitcher Jose Cisnero, made his ML debut for Houston in 2013.
"This year, we began training at the Academy on January 21st, and many of our top prospects are already here, including Michael Feliz, Domingo Santana, and Teoscar Hernandez," Ocampo said. "Many of our youngest players, including SS Joan Mauricio (17), 3B Wander Franco (17) and SS/CF Osvaldo Duarte (18) have shown considerable progress in less than a year, and that is a testament to the hard work of our scouting and player development staff."
With the addition of the second Dominican Summer League club, the Astros now have nine minor league affiliates, which is tied for tops in baseball (seven domestic, two international).