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Documentary film about young ballplayers in the DR - Orioles related...

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COVID-19 boredom, and the fact that I miss baseball, took me on a path to this particular documentary film that exposed the interesting relationship between hopeful 16-year-old players in the Dominican Republic and their dreams of playing in MLB.  The film intimates that the Orioles were on the fast track to sign Miguel Sano, for $5M US dollars, but perhaps another MLB franchise (PIT) muddied the waters about Sano's actual age.



The film shows just how desperate how many DR families are for their teen-aged sons to sign with MLB teams, and what they will go through to celebrate on July 2nd, which at that time, was signing day.


Did the O's miss out on Sano?: 


Or, were they better off?

Kidnapping? : https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/twins-miguel-sano-says-hes-being-blackmailed-with-kidnapping-accusation/

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This story provides a good up to date overview of some aspects of the complex situation.


It  centers around  Rudy Santin a Cuban/Dominican scout and FBI informant who recently died. The FBI investigation he was feeding info to has been brewing for a while with no results so far.

The article covers a lot of ground including how the COVID-19 related changes are spurring a rash of reneging on those handshake agreements teams make with 12 year olds (first adulthood lesson: never trust a handshake agreement....at least from MLB!).

On a silly aside, given the Orioles new emphasis on investing in this (at best) somewhat sordid market, I think this discussion of the international market deserves more prominence in the O Hangout. (Before you say it: I know there are other threads in other forums buried somewhere).

On the value of a MLB handshake:


The result, Santin said in one interview with USA TODAY Sports, is that young kids, their families and the trainers who develop prospects, are left in perilous financial situations. “Number one, I’m not getting paid on time. The (prospects) are not getting paid on time,” said Santin. “They’re (players and their families) paying percentages (to lenders), which will be extended for seven, eight months. Who knows? (Garcia’s) family owes over $100,000 and some dollars in borrowed money.” 


If teams renege, Blakeley says, it is the prospects who bear the brunt of the hardship — not only are they responsible for repaying loans, they also have basically been removed from the market. Teams often hide them from scouts as soon as an agreement is reached, Blakeley says, keeping them from playing in games and in leagues and showcases.



“I’ve given them several (pieces) of information as to who signed for what amount and who signed them. They’re signing 12- and 13-year-olds. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the kids and the trainers and even the scouts here in the Dominican Republic — when you’re 12 and 13 years old you’re supposed to be playing in the Little League field. You’re not supposed to be trying out for major league clubs.”

According to Blakeley, prospects and their parents rely on the promise of a big payday. “They wait until some kind of offer that they have probably been led to believe will net them $1 million,” Blakeley said. “In reality, they may be lucky if they get half of that. And then, they may be lucky if they get anything.”



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Do you think extending the amateur draft globally would curb this situation?  What else could be put in place to protect these kids and their families?

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2 hours ago, ChipTait said:

Do you think extending the amateur draft globally would curb this situation?  What else could be put in place to protect these kids and their families?

I think it's one of those complex situations where one thing like an international draft is not going to completely fix the problem. For one, a lot of the problems stem for issues that are truly out of the control of MLB and those issues vary from country to country.

I think a draft could be a net benefit to the kids and their families in a very broad way, but it depends on the details. There is a lot of (justified) suspicion that the owners just want a draft to save money, and that a draft formulated along their interests could be even worse than the current situation. On top of that, the international draft has become a bargaining chip between the owners and the MLBPA, neither of whom represent the international players. This article from last year gives a pretty pessimistic view: https://deadspin.com/mlbs-proposed-international-draft-is-half-insult-half-1836678098



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