Trevor Martin described Pelotero as a spiritual predecessor to Sugar (2008) as Pelotero is about how a player is recruited to Major League Baseball from the Dominican Republic and Sugar's plot relates to how a player adapts to Major League Baseball once he has arrived. See more »
Documentary Illustrates the Shady Side of Baseball Recruiting
I found this documentary quite illuminating in revealing some of the shadiness involved in baseball recruiting in the Dominican Republic. First of all, I was quite surprised to learn that 20% of baseball players in the Major and Minor Leagues come from that country.
Narrated by John Leguizamo, it follows the two most highly rated prospects in the Dominican Republic, Miguel Angel Sano,AKA "Bocatron", and Jean Carlos Batista. They are both sixteen years old and shortstops. Being a sports fan I was astounded at the natural ability and physique of Sano at first sight.
The signing of prospects from the country is so important that Major League Baseball maintains an office there, as well as individual team tryout camps. The MLB rules dictate that players must sign on July 2nd, and must be 16 years old, to receive top signing bonuses, which can run into millions of dollars. MLB feels the loss of a year, until 17 years old, has a significantly deleterious effect on their development and will not offer anywhere near the bonuses at 16yo.
So here's where the deceit and shadiness comes in on both sides it seems. First, there have been a number of attempts by the prospects and their families to give falsified ages and birth documents and even identities, so that a supposed 16yo might be 17 or even older.
On the other hand, MLB, according to the film, may run investigations that run on and on, and in the case of Sano may include even DNA and bone tests to prove his age. So if proof of age and identity can't be determined conclusively by July 2nd, millions of dollars could be saved for the teams and lost by the prospects and their families.
With so much poverty in the country, and the strange rules of MLB, it obviously can lead to corruption and deceit.
I won't give away what happens to the two highly rated prospects. I'll let you take in the film yourselves. Let's just say there are some surprises along the way.
All in all, I found the doc to be engrossing and informative, as I had no clue what was going on there. Apparently MLB is working on changing the way it signs prospects there. I also found it "interesting' that MLB refused to be interviewed for the film to give their side of the story.
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