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08/12/08 9:00 PM ET

Bucs see progress on Dominican facility

Club has hopes of having complex completed by May 2009

PITTSBURGH -- Six months after buying land in the Dominican Republic, the Pirates announced on Tuesday that work on their 43-acre Latin American training facility is progressing at an impressive rate.

Located in the municipality of El Toro in the Dominican Republic, the complex's design and leveling of the playing fields is beginning to take shape, as well as installation of irrigation systems and fencing. Work is also progressing with the clubhouse, administration offices and dormitory with the completed foundations and construction of the first stories of each.

The facility remains on target to open in time for the start of the Dominican Summer League in May 2009.

"We are extremely pleased with the progress and pace of the construction of our new complex thus far," Pirates owner Bob Nutting said in a released statement. "Once complete, it will be recognized as one of the best Major League complexes in the Dominican and should give us a significant advantage in our efforts in the region. In fact, the plans for the new complex and the increase in the Latin American operations budget has already started to pay dividends with the prospects we have signed over the past month."

The Pirates said that director of field operations Manny Lopez traveled to the complex to oversee the installation of the sod playing surface for the complex's two-and-one-half fields, as well as to train the staff that will be maintaining the fields.

The Pirates have already signed a number of Latin American prospects this season before the end of the current international signing period on Aug. 31. Top Columbian shortstop Yonathan Barrios, 16, headlines the list of signees.

"Finding and developing talent in Latin America is a top priority for our ballclub," Nutting said. "This complex demonstrates our long-term commitment to having strong operations in the Dominican Republic and throughout Latin America."

The complex will serve as the new headquarters for the Pirates Latin American baseball operations, as well as a training and housing facility capable of holding more than two teams.

Among the amenities are: weight rooms, covered batting cages and pitching mounds, classrooms and computer and video training rooms.

Todd Krise is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.