Published On: Mon, Dec 22nd, 2014

NYT: “Curacao’s unpredictable fields producing Major League Baseball middle infield stars”

siriusxm-all-star-futures-gameWILLEMSTAD – This tiny island off the coast of Venezuela we like to call home, has become an unexpected pool for talent in Major League Baseball. This is according to a report from The New York Times.

Due to the sandy and stony dirt naturally found on the island and used on local baseball fields, Curacao's little leaguers are making it big as middle infielders.

The dirt bounces the ball differently, making it more unpredictable than on a traditional American baseball field. As a result, the infielders are trained to catch balls from any direction quickly.

Last year, USA Today reported that three young infielders were "putting Curacao on the map."

The Little League in the autonomous Dutch country has played in the World Series in 10 of the last 12 years, winning the title in 2004 and finishing second in 2005.

The Baseball Almanac published debut years of players from Curacao, the first of which was in 1989, and most recent of which was 2013.

"I think not only us, but the rest of the industry is probably going to be spending a little more time there, when you see that some of the top prospects in the game are coming from there," Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said last year.

In fact, every team now has a part-time scout on the island, said Ben Thijssen, a former third-base coach for the Dutch national team.

Seven players last year meant that Curacao has the most major leaguers per capita in the world, which is about one player for every 21,000 residents.

By comparison, there were about 83 players from the Dominican Republic, which equals about one player per 125,000 residents.

The United States only has one per 503,000 residents.

Whether or not this is a new and sustainable trend, or simply a rush that will eventually subside, remains to be seen.

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