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Scouting the Dominican

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — John Grupp has been handing beat duties the past couple of days while I’m here, working on stories about the Pirates’ new Latin American headquarters.

The $5 million complex will be christened tomorrow during a ceremony attended by owner Bob Nutting, team president Frank Coonelly and Dominican President Leonel Fernandez Reyna. Look for an update in Thursday’s Trib.

This afternoon, the front-office braintrust — GM Neal Huntington, farm director Kyle Stark and director of Latin American scouting Rene Gayo — held an invitation-only workout for unsigned prospects at the complex.

This morning, Gayo also conducted a more general workout. About 80 players showed up, but the event was cut short by a sudden, strong rainstorm. The day wasn’t a total loss, though — Gayo got a “verbal commitment” from a shortstop who will be eligible to sign with the Pirates in July. That’s all I can divulge at the moment. More on that in a later Trib story.

• Stark told me prized outfielder prospect Jose Tabata will miss the next four to six weeks with a right hamstring injury. Tabata was hurt a couple of days ago in his first game as the leadoff hitter for Double-A Altoona. Why put Tabata, who has good but not tremendous speed, in the top hitting spot? “Just wanted to shake up the lineup,” Stark said.

• Altoona’s Jim Negrych had his nine-game hitting streak snapped Sunday. He got back on track Monday, going 3 for 4 and boosting his average to .381, second-best in the Eastern League.

• Relief pitchers have notched the wins in eight of Class A Lynchburg’s 13 victories. … Pedro Alvarez has hit four homers. Three of them gave Lynchburg the lead, including a walk-off shot. The other one tied a game with two outs in the ninth inning.

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