Could the next Ronaldo or Renzo Gracie or Gustavo Kuerten be wearing a baseball glove instead of a soccer shoe, Jiu-Jitsu gi or tennis shorts?They're starting with the right frame of mind. It's not just about signing players who are ready now:
That might be premature, but the Tampa Bay Rays, by establishing a baseball academy in Brazil, believe they can tap into the sports-mad country of almost 200 million to find a few good players down the line. And help grow the sport in the process.
“Brazil has demonstrated through the years that it has produced tremendous athletes in almost any sport,” said Andres Reiner, the Rays’ special director of development. “There’s no reason why they wouldn’t be good baseball players.”
“Baseball is a game that can be taught to those with great athleticism,” said Reiner. “The goal is to get kids ages 6-13 playing, to popularize the game. Some will fall in love with it just like in other countries where they play it from early childhood.”Another reason Brazil works:
With the success of baseball academies in Venezuela and Columbia, the Rays had been considering expanding their programs in places like China, South Africa and Ghana, according to Reiner, who instead suggested Brazil because of its relative proximity to the U.S. and other baseball-playing nations.It's not just a publicity stunt, either:
They hope to point one day to Leonardo Reginatto, a 19-year-old from Curitiba, Brazil, who signed with the Rays earlier this year and is currently honing his skills at the team’s academy in Venezuela. Reiner has high hopes for Reginatto, though it is too early for him to predict how far he may advance in the organization.More in-depth information from the original article.