Anyone who is in tune with Major League Baseball knows that there are numerous Latin American ballplayers on every MLB roster. What is rarely exposed to the public is the process in which these Latin American players are scouted and signed to professional contracts. As is any big money business, the recruitment and signing of good and young talent is a highly competitive and instrumental aspect of operations. In regards to Latin American players and Major League Baseball, the vast majority of the work is done in countries and territories outside of the United States border. Most of the work is done without much media attention, and the process is rarely placed into the public’s view. Now, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, Bobby Valentine is the executive producer of a documentary, called “Ballplayer: Pelotero,” that will expose some of the inner workings of the signing process of Dominican prospects.
This documentary is sure to raise some eyebrows, as it has already caught the concerned attention of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. According to Davidoff, Selig has already called Boston Red Sox ownership and expressed his concerns about the film project. For many years, there have been whispers and rumors questioning the actual and true ages of certain Latin American prospects and players. Recently, Miami Marlins pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo was suspended for eight weeks for age and identity fraud. Also, Cleveland Indians pitcher, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, was arrested for using a false identity. “Carmona’s” real name is believed to be Roberto Hernandez Heredia or Roberto Hernandez. Hernandez was eventually cleared of charges after completing a work program. The Indians do not believe that Hernandez will face the same eight week suspension that Oviedo received. Both of the above players have Dominican roots. The new documentary, “Ballplayer: Pelotero,” will expose some dealings with the controversial age issue.
This documentary will follow Dominican ballplayers Miguel Sano and Jean Carlos Batista as signing deadlines approach. ”Ballplayer: Pelotero” will use live footage of baseball dealings in the Dominican Republic. Specifically, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ director of Latin American scouting operations, Rene Gayo, was secretly filmed by the family of Miguel Sano. Sano is a highly touted prospect from the Dominican Republic who is suspected of and is being investigated for falsifying his identity. As is reported, Gayo admits to having knowledge as to how to deal with such sticky issues. Gayo is said to have said the following words to Sano’s family in the Spanish language:
We can sign right now. All you have to do is say OK [Sano lied about his age], and we can sign. The only real offer he has is mine for $2 million. … Unfortunately, this is the country of lies. … What I’d do is get him amnesty [from a suspension].
I have influence. It’s not a problem. All you have to do is cooperate. … You don’t have any problems because you’ve got me.
Bobby Valentine has been around baseball for a long time. He is well aware of the inner workings of MLB and the scouting process in other countries. Valentine recognizes the practices as nothing new and simply the way things are done. Here is what Valentine had to say about the documentary and the above practices, according to the New York Post:
It’s not anyone acting. It’s just the way things are done. It might seem foreign to some people watching it here. I’m sure it’s been the way things are done for years to get the upper hand.
It’s just the way you do things. I don’t think it’s slander.
This looks to be an explosive and eye-popping documentary, as there will be scenes of strong accusations. Not only will the identity and age issue be explored, but the Sano family attorney, Salmon Francisco, is filmed calling MLB a “mafia,” and he accuses MLB of attempting to steer Sano towards signing with the Pirates. There is no wondering why Bud Selig has his concerns.
The film will be nationally released on July 13. The premiere will be shown tonight in New York at the Schomburg Center in Harlem.