Here's the press release:
The Arizona Diamondbacks will send a contingent of high-ranking executives, led by President & CEO Derrick Hall, on a four-day trip to the Dominican Republic this weekend to participate in a pair of significant events.
On Friday, the D-backs will host a graduation ceremony at 10:30 a.m. local time at their academy in Boca Chica, where the first four graduates of the program will receive their diplomas from Hall and Sr. Vice President of Human Resources, Marian Rhodes. The program, which is believed to be the first of its kind, ensures that every player signed to play at the academy receives a high-school education regardless of whether or not he advances in his baseball career.
The program stemmed from a promise made by Hall to the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, in 2013 that the team would provide the youth of his country with the best education among all 30 franchises. The players are required to attend school two days per week for four hours each day, with weekly evaluations by the academy's education staff. Each student is provided with a laptop computer and the team covers the cost of tuition for each player, even if he is released and no longer playing with the organization.
"We know that not every player will reach the big leagues or even make it to the United States as a prospect," said Hall. "But once they sign with the D-backs they are afforded the opportunity to get an education."
On Saturday, the D-backs contingent will be on hand as legend Luis Gonzalez is inducted into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, Nomar Garciaparra, Ozzie Guillen and Roberto Kelly. The ceremony will take place at the Altos de Chavón Amphitheatre at Casa de Campo in La Romana. "We are so proud of Gonzo for this tremendous honor," said Hall. "His contributions on and off the field have left a mark on the history of the game of baseball and make him very deserving of his place in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame."
The first of these is, personally, the most interesting and notable - no disrespect to Gonzo, but TIL there was a Latino Baseball Hall of Fame. [In its defense, it only opened in 2010] I've seen and read enough about the system in the Dominican Republic, to understand that, while it does provide a potential route of what can be overwhelming poverty, it's about as far from a sure thing as you'll ever get. Those that fall through the cracks, can fall hard. Skimming the cream off the top for your major-league team is all well and good, but I'm glad to hear the team is providing those it signs, with something that will help them even if they don't make it.
I don't know how unique this program is, and can't say for sure how it compares to other teams - my exhaustive research i.e. five minutes of fairly strenuous Googling, turned up an almost complete dearth of specific information. However, this article, from March 2013, doen't paint an encouraging picture, saying: "Most teams provide their players little more than baseball-centric survival English — and see no reason to act as a backstop for a struggling Dominican public education system." So, eight hours a week may not seem like a lot, but in a country where only one in ten students complete secondary schooling, it's likely a good deal more significant than you'd think.