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Ballplayer: Pelotero (DVD Review)

4 Sep, 2012 By: Angelique Flores

Street 9/4/12
Box Office $0.04 million
$24.99 DVD
Not rated.
Narrated by John Leguizamo.

Among foreign players in Major League Baseball, the Dominican Republic dominates the rosters, with 20% of professional baseball players (both major and minor leagues) coming from the DR.

That’s according to the documentary Pelotero, which describes the training system there as it follows two young players as they become eligible to sign.

For years already, Miguel Angel Sanó and Jean Carlos Batista have been training for the big leagues. In their country, many boys quit school and even move away from home in order to devote their lives to training. Signing a contact could mean a ticket out of poverty for them and their families.

According to MLB rules, the youngest a player can sign is 16 — also the age they can claim the biggest signing bonus — and the first day he can sign is July 2.

It’s 2009, and Miguel Angel is arguably the top prospect in the country. However, his talent and his massive size have MLB questioning whether he really is 16. Some might argue that MLB isn’t so much refuting Miguel Angel’s age as it is trying to avoid having any teams pay the massive bonus such a talented 16-year-old could command. While the league investigates, and even ignores, some of the findings of its own tests, Miguel Angel is left in limbo. July 2 comes and goes with no offer because it’s too risky for a team to sign a player who isn’t cleared. If that player turns out to have lied about his age, he faces an automatic one-year suspension. As the days pass after July 2, if a player isn’t signed, his potential bonus shrinks as the team’s tap out on other players they’ve already signed.

Meanwhile Jean Carlos, too, faces questions about his age — a situation that angers his trainer, Astín Jacobo, who has taken him in like a son and whose reputation is now at stake.

The documentary, narrated by John Leguizamo and executive produced by Bobby Valentine, gives a fascinating look at the training system in the DR, where such top players as Miguel Tejada, David Ortiz and Vladimir Guerrero are harvested.

The disc also comes with a photo gallery that includes captions and provides even more details about baseball in the DR.

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