Signing Teenagers in the Dominican Republic and Other Bullets

dominican flagI finally watched ‘Pelotero’ last night (for free on Amazon Prime, I should add), the documentary about players trying to get signed out of the Dominican Republic, with a focus on the stories of Miguel Sano and Jean Carlos Batista. If you’re a baseball/prospect nerd, it’s a must-watch. I didn’t realize how eager the top prospects are to sign on July 2nd (just as the teams are eager to get the youngsters locked up), and how it’s almost like you’ve failed if you aren’t able to sign on that day. Well, at least that’s the impression the picture gives you. The whole thing is an interesting look at this process of signing teenagers – seriously, don’t forget how young these kids are – in the DR.

  • Sano’s story was really fascinating. For context now, Sano is considered a top 10/20 prospect in the game (some have him as high as a top 5 type), and any organization would love to have him. I knew there were alleged shenanigans with age discrepancies and shady recruitment tactics back when he signed four+ years ago, but I didn’t know the extent. And, get this: the finalists for Sano were the Twins and Pirates, and, if Sano had decided to sign with the Pirates, he’d be a 23-year-old prospect right now, not a 20-year-old prospect. Yeah, that sounds weird, but it’s apparently what happened – Sano’s age was being investigated, and the Pirates said they would sign him despite the MLB investigation if he would just “admit” that he was 19 at the time, and not 16, which he always claimed he was (and, presumably, still asserts that birthdate to this day). He waited things out, and eventually MLB cleared him to sign but would not approve his age. The Twins were willing to take the risk for a hair over $3 million, and they got him. (Sano was originally expected to get over $5 million, which a Cubs scout is depicted as saying was probably too much – oops.)
  • More on new Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller, and thoughts on his approach from Darwin Barney (the two have been working together already in Mesa for some time now). Reverse Barney’s offensive course could be hugely important for the first half of 2014 – no, not because Barney is likely to be the Cubs’ starting second baseman too far beyond 2014, but because, if he shows anything whatsoever with the bat in the first half, the Cubs might be able to spin him off mid-season for a low-level prospect, while simultaneously opening up an infield spot for Javier Baez or Arismendy Alcantara.
  • A little more on Keith Law’s Cubs top 14 list from Jesse Rogers, who gets some feedback from Cubs VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod. He had some nice things to say about Kyle Hendricks, who did not make the list.
  • So maybe the Cubs are going to be involved in the developments around the new ballpark in Mesa (the Wrigleyville West commercial area)? There are some conflicting reports about whether the Cubs are going to be handing all of that off to the city of Mesa, but a spokesperson says the Cubs are still interested in doing some of the developing. I guess we’ll see what happens.
  • The February issue of Vine Line is all prospecty, and Kris Bryant lands the cover. Much to the chagrin of everyone, Bryant’s dreamy eyes are not featured prominently. I guess we’ll have to settle for “baseball ability.”
  • Daniel Bard, whom the Cubs picked up off of waivers late in the year and then non-tendered, wound up signing on with the Rangers after thoracic outlet surgery.
  • If you’re just now tuning in, each of the Cubs and rooftops had a spokesperson on the radio early this morning. Check out the highlights.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

28 responses to “Signing Teenagers in the Dominican Republic and Other Bullets”

  1. MattyNomad

    I watched Pelotero some 2months after it came out, and I gotta agree….its an eye opener. The scene in which Batistas mother claimed “I dont know what would happen if Jean Carlo doesnt get signed” really put things into perspective with these 16yr olds.

  2. WiscCubsFan

    PSA- Ballplayer: Pelotero is on Netflix also. And it is absolutely worth watching if this topic interests you at all.

    1. Funn Dave

      I was just going to ask. I know what I’ll be watching tonight.

  3. farmerjon

    …and if any of you have seen Sugar (baseball movie), that’s me that starts the fight with the baseball players at the nightclub (shameless self promoting plug complete) ;-)

  4. ramy16

    Totals just DFA Emilio Bonifacio I would love to see the Cubs pick up this guy!

    1. dunston donuts

      Agree. Boing acini would make sense. Position versatility plus speed.

      1. dunston donuts

        *Bonifacio – iphone issue on this one. LOL

        1. Soda Popinski

          I liked Boing Acini better.

      2. dumbledoresacubsfan

        My question is why they decided to DFA him? I’d be rather surprised if the Cubs (and many other teams) didn’t put in some time trying to grab him.

  5. ramy16

    Royals* stupid ipad

    1. Funn Dave

      Between you and Duston, we’ve got some great typos.

  6. Diesel

    Since you mentioned documentaries for baseball/prospect nerds I am going to shamelessly plug a movie coming out in the near future that gets into the life of not only minor leaguers but also immigration and other similar stuff. It is a work of fiction but I think it would be a good flick for baseball fans and it was filmed where I live and in a baseball park I frequent often. They also used the local team’s name and colors. It is called The Mendoza Line. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully all of you can find a place to see it.

  7. cubzfan

    How delusional is Darwin Barney? He says in that article on Mueller that he got to the majors on his offense, and then the defense came. Um…what? He never hit in the minors.

  8. Johnny Chess

    How about Barney for Bonaficio?

    1. Funn Dave

      Hell yes.

  9. ramy16

    Definitely take Bonifacio for Barney..if Bonifacio was anything like he was in Miami. .that would be a steal..he’ll steal a few bags as well

  10. Rooster

    This was a great watch. The Twins got a bargain. I was hoping the Cubs were going to be in on Sano but you could tell MLB was just trying to keep signing bonuses down. Maybe they should concentrate on the signings in the US and free agency rather than the DR. Sano was a steal for the Twinkies! He was bullied by MLB and never found guilty of tampering/not telling the truth about his age. Great movie though.

  11. addks

    This will be my first time playing in a fantasy baseball draft. In your opinion, is pitching or hitting more valuable. Just looking for a bit of advice before draft day. Thanks!

    1. NorthSideIrish

      Quality hitting runs out quickly. There’s always pitching late. Don’t pay for saves.

      1. addks

        Thanks for the advice.

        1. Rooster

          Stock up on bats like Irish said. It really depends what type of league and scoring system you’re using. If it’s a 5×5 league then it’s whole different animal. If it’s a points league then study the scoring system. Do they penalize for strikeouts? Hard to say without seeing the scoring system.

    2. Funn Dave

      Just stock up on Cubbies and you’ll be fine.

      I’m literally drinking Kool-Aid right now. Lemon-lime.

  12. Diehardthefirst

    If MLB didn’t have anti-trust exemption they wouldn’t be able to get away with signing anyone under 21 – but who cares? More foreign road kill to be steamrolled for Americas past-time LOL

  13. Guidoq

    Pelotero is also on Netflix.

  14. RoscoeVillageFan

    Pelotero was really interesting. Although the whole MLB investigation stuff seems pretty corrupt itself. Hard to figure out who is telling the truth. Plus that scout from the pirates is a low life crook.

  15. Diehardthefirst

    Congress should get involved and prohibit signing anyone under 21

    1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      The US Government is kind of involved there Diehard. You see, there are these things that are called Visas. You have to have them to work in the US if you are an immigrant. For an athlete the variety is P-1 if I remember correctly. So, they have specific Visas for athletes/entertainers. They set the age for those Visas. They are involved. Plus, 21 years old? Come on man.

      1. Diehardthefirst

        Like Schumer with Tanaka visa- I got it

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