Posts Tagged ‘ballplayer’

Ballplayer: Pelotero

Miguel Sano is the object of Ballplayer: Pelotero - a documentary about baseball in the Dominican Republic

Earlier this summer, I was feeling rather down on my Minnesota Twins. I was checking out TwinDaily (which I check, quite ironically, daily) hoping to read about some great prospects (mainly: Miguel Sano) that are going to save the Twins and turn them back into World Series contenders three years from now. I was really interested when friend of the blog (and former little league coach Seth Stohs) posted a review of Ballplayer: Pelotero, a documentary that focused highly on gem of the Minnesota Twins farm system Miguel Sano. Instantly, I wanted to see the movie, but kept dragging my feet. I’ve nearly purchased it no fewer than 10 times on iTunes. One time, I was planning to purchase to watch it on a bus trip only to find out I didn’t have enough free space on my phone to watch it.

Finally, since it was added to Netflix two weeks ago, I got around to seeing Ballplayer: Pelotero. It’s a story about how the Dominican Republic baseball system is set up. Currently, around 20% of the major league is made up of players from the Dominican Republic including stars like Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Ubaldo Jiménez, José Reyes, Sammy Sosa, Vladimir Guerrero and many more. However, the Dominican baseball system is setup very differently than it is here in America. Players are signed once they turn 16 on July 2nd. Big signing bonuses are handed out to the most elite prospects with everyone else grabbing whatever signing bonuses they can. Kids enter training camps in their early teens and spent hours training in hopes of one day impressing a major league team at tryouts. Most of these kids are poor and can’t afford to pay for training, so deals are struck among the trainers – often also the agent for the players – who often receive up to 35% of the signing bonus in exchange for the past few years of training.

Ballplayer:Pelotero focused on two major prospects. Miguel Sano (called Miguel Angel throughout most of the movie), trained by Vasilio Tejada, is thought of as the prize prospect in all of the Dominican Republic likely to receive the largest signing bonus in DR history. Jean Carlos Batista, trained by Astin Jacobo, is thought of as an elite prospect who hopes to get a signing bonus in the $1.5 million range.

Quick tangent – I don’t pretend to be a great baseball talent evaluator, but I couldn’t have been more impressed with Miguel Sano. His swing reminds me of Manny Ramirez… it is just looks good to the untrained eye.

As July 2nd nears, Miguel Sano and his family is informed that he is being investigated by the MLB for possibly lying about his age. Name and age falsification have been a major problem for years in the Dominican Republic (google “fausto carmono name”, “miguel tejada age” or “david arias”). New rules have been put in place where a player who is found to have lied about their age will be suspended for a full year. Players, in search of the biggest signing bonuses possible, along with families, trainers, and many others will falsify documents or, in some cases, completely swap families in order to appear to be younger than they are.

I won’t spoil what happens in the movie, but the age concerns play a huge part in the final third of the movie. Of course, we know Sano winds up with the Twins and has destroyed the minor leagues thus far.

My lone complaint about this movie is I think they could’ve added one more scene at the end of the movie. Show Miguel Sano living in the United States. Talk to him about what changes there are playing professional baseball. They easily could’ve added 20 minutes about his first professional season which would’ve allowed the movie to come a little more full circle.


out of 10

Watch the trailer:


10 2012