Tigers lose Venezuelan Summer League team
The Tigers have enjoyed a scouting and developmental advantage in Venezuela as one of the few Major League teams left with both an academy in the country and a team in the Venezuelan Summer League. They’ll still have the academy, but the VSL is done, postponed for the upcoming season due to lack of participation. The Cubs are reportedly pulling out, which would have left just three teams.
The decision did not catch the Tigers by surprise, given the situation in Venezuela.
“It is disappointing, because it was a good league and it served a real important purpose,” general manager Al Avila said Saturday at TigerFest. “But because of the political situation, a lot of teams have moved out. You can’t have a league with only two or three teams. A lot of teams have a second team in the Dominican Republic with the Dominican Summer League. We’re looking more into adding a team in the [Florida] Gulf Coast League.”
The GCL is a step up from both the Venezuelan and Dominican Summer Leagues, so it’s not necessarily an even exchange. Experienced pro players who would have been in line for the DSL will more likely get a promotion to the GCL, leaving younger players in the Dominican. The Tigers have an academy and a facility in the Dominican, but not necessarily big enough to accommodate two teams.
The Venezuelan academy will remain in place, Avila said. The Tigers will continue to field a team there for the Parallel League, essentially the minor leagues for the Venezuelan Winter League.
“It wasn’t a tough call to keep [the academy] open,” Avila said. “We knew that this was probably coming to come down the road, and we planned to keep it open. It’s a necessity for us.”