Interesting news out of Fukuoka - the SoftBank Hawks have sent team COO Takanori Takeuchi* and head coach Koji Moriwaki on a business trip to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. On the agenda is to watch a handful of Winter League games, and look into creating ties with a baseball academy in the Dominican. Sponichi quotes Takeuchi as saying, "even to if it's just to stimulate our farm team, we're considering bringing in Dominican players (as instructional players). If possible we'd like to affiliate with an independent academy ". He added jokingly, "we were given an extra bag to bring back foreign players." Nishi Nippon adds another quote from Takeuchi: "there are academies that are not affiliated with the majors over there. Going forward we'd like to build cooperative relationships."
If SoftBank does indeed set something up, it would be the third NPB academy in Latin America. The Hiroshima Carp have an academy in the Dominican, and the Yakult Swallows have one in Brazil. Both have graduated players to the NPB level, but the Carp's Academy has been particularly successful in that it's produced MLB players Alfonso Soriano, Timo Perez, Robinson Checo, and Ramon Ramirez.
*Takeuchi has an eye for talent. He was in the US during the summer trying to convince the Rangers to sell Nelson Cruz's contract to SoftBank.