HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow returned Wednesday from a three-day trip to the team's complex in the Dominican Republic. Senior vice president Marcel Braithwaite and senior vice president for finance Jonathan Germer also made the trip.
While in the Dominican, the Astros announced they will add a second Dominican Summer League team, giving them seven domestic Minor League affiliates and two in the Dominican. Luhnow said it was necessary to keep up with the team's commitment to land international players.
"We've signed a lot of good players the past couple of years and especially feel like since [international director] Oz [Ocampo] got here we focus a lot on getting the right type of player," Luhnow said. "We need an opportunity for them to play and develop. We have the largest [international bonus] pool again this year. We had it last year, and we'll probably have a decent-sized pool going forward.
"We want to make sure as we invest the dollars in the players, we give them plenty of opportunity to develop, and having two teams over there just doubles the amount of innings and at-bats we have available for the kids to gain the experience they need prior to coming to the states."
An additional team adds to the costs of salaries for the staff and players, food and infrastructure costs. The Astros' Dominican academy, which opened in 2010, was built for one team, so some renovations will be needed.
"It's a nice facility," Luhnow said. "It has everything we need. It wasn't designed with two teams in mind, though it was bigger than what we needed for one team. We're having to squeeze in a little bit, but we're going to make it work."