Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 3/2/13
Andres Reiner was right about Venezuela. He was an executive with the Navegantes del Magallanes, one of the most storied franchises in the Venezuelan Winter League, during the 1970s. He knew the breadth of the country's baseball talent. So, he wrote up his proposal to start a baseball academy, tied to one major-league franchise. There would be dormitories and fields, the incubators for a dream. He offered the concept to the Pittsburgh Pirates. They said no. Too much money. So, he asked the Houston Astros. They said no, too. But then they changed their minds. The Astros' academy opened in Valencia on Aug. 1, 1989, with an annual operational budget of $17,000. It was one of the wisest line items in baseball budgetary history. Over nearly two decades, the complex witnessed the earliest professional days of Johan Santana, Carlos Guillen, Freddy Garcia, Bobby Abreu and Richard Hidalgo -- all of whom signed with the Astros. Reiner is retired now, after spending several years with the T...
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