Ralph Ávila, who helped create the Los Angeles Dodgers’ baseball academy in the Dominican Republic in the 1980s, died Monday in Miami at age 92.
“Dad died peacefully of natural causes and at peace with God,” Ávila’s son, former Detroit Tigers GM Al Ávila, told ESPN Deportes.
Ávila, who was born in Cuba, joined the Dodgers as a part-time scout in 1970 and led the organization’s Latin American scouting efforts for decades. He helped establish the Dodgers’ Campo Las Palmas, the first academy operated in the Dominican by a major league organization, which opened in 1987.
The academy outside Santo Domingo became the model for modern baseball academies in the Dominican.
“Before we got the academies, 95 to 97 percent of the players that were released from Latin America were released not because they lacked the ability,” Ávila said in 2000. “It was because they lacked knowledge of professional baseball.”
Ramon Martinez and his brother, future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, Candy Maldonado, Mariano Duncan and Omar Daal were among the Dominican stars signed by Ávila, who served as regional coordinator, director and later vice president at Campo Las Palmas.
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Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, who died in 2021, called Ávila “an institution” when the longtime executive retired in 1999.
After he retired, Ávila continued to serve as team advisor until 2021.
Avila’s son, Al, was the general manager in Detroit from 2015 through 2022 and his grandson, Alex, played catcher for six MLB teams in 13 seasons.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ralph Ávila, ex-Dodgers Latin America scouting executive, dies at 92
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