PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates have notified their Venezuelan academy that the organization will be terminating its lease and no longer participating in the six-team Venezuelan Summer League.
Though the Pirates have not commented publicly on the situation, the instability and political climate in Venezuela is thought to have played a large role in the organization's decision to pull out. The move will also ease the organization's Latin American development system, as it will now all be centered out of the Pirates' relatively new academy in the Dominican Republic.
Beginning in 2012, the Pirates will field two teams in the Dominican Summer League. Both clubs will accommodate 35 players, meaning that the closure of the Venezuelan academy will not impact the number of players the Pirates can develop in Latin America.
Pittsburgh's VSL team finished in first place this season with a 40-32 record. It advanced to the postseason for the sixth straight season before losing to the Rays' affiliate in the championship series. The Pirates have captured two of the last four VSL championships.