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Padres to send players to Dominican

Padres to send players to Dominican

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SAN DIEGO -- Instructional league is already under way in Peoria, Ariz., where 40 of the Padres' top Minor League prospects are attempting to get a jump on 2009, and in some cases are working on new positions.

Grady Fuson, the Padres' vice president of scouting, said the team only budgets for 40 spots annually in Arizona, though there are typically "three or four guys on the long list," who don't get that opportunity.

So Fuson and the team came up with the idea of shipping a handful of players, including first-round Draft pick, outfielder Jaff Decker, to their $8 million facility that opened this spring in the Dominican Republic.

Fuson confirmed that Decker and a handful of other players will join a group of about 35 players at the facility in the Dominican Republic. The purpose isn't just about getting the players additional work but also helping them forge a bond with Latin American players.

"As we continue to build this whole Latin America awareness, we are trying to get these domestic players to continue to be good with the Latin American players," Fuson said.

Decker will be the most notable player to head to the Dominican Republic. The 18-year-old outfielder was the MVP of the Arizona League after hitting .352 with five home runs and 34 RBIs in 49 games.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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