Dominican Scouts, MLB At Impasse Over Prospects

Amidst three hours of meetings with Dominican baseball officials, trainers, and scouts last Thursday, MLB Dominican office boss Sandy Alderson gave a description of his work on the island to Yahoo's Jeff Passan in terms extending beyond talk of steroids, bonus-skimming and age fraud. His goals also included winning over the Dominican baseball community's proverbial hearts and minds.

"It's trying to convince people of what the mission here is and that my goal is really a constructive one," Alderson said. "I'm here to preserve what baseball and the Dominican Republic have while, at the same time, eliminating those problems that cast baseball, and the Dominican Republic itself, in a negative way." By these standards, the results of a busy week of meetings and press conferences were mixed at best, as Alderson won over some former critics to his vision of reform and left others firmer and louder in their opposition.

On the positive side, he met with Dominican journalists on Thursday and insisted that the oft-expressed fears of the Dominican Republic ending up a second-tier MLB talent source such as Puerto Rico were unfounded, due to fundamental differences in the islands' respective politics, baseball culture, and, of course, the immense investments made by MLB franchises in the Dominican Republic. This explanation won over Listin Diario baseball columnist Mario Emilio Guerrero, who had previously labeled Alderson's ideas "a stab to the heart of Dominican baseball" and tied them to anti-Latino racism. In a new column this Sunday, Guerrero said he would now "give Alderson the benefit of the doubt," assured that implementing the draft was not one of his foremost priorities.

On the negative side, protests continued outside of MLB's offices in Santo Domingo, as did calls for increased government presence in the proceedings. More pointedly, the week also saw an escalation in the conflict between MLB and Dominican scouts, and a preview of the form that conflict will likely take in the future. In response to fears that they were being shut out of the reform conversation, scouts and trainers utilized perhaps the only substantive recourse they could take against a billion-dollar sports league with an imperial grip on their national economy. They hid the goods.

More specifically, scouts barred members of the Major League Scouting Bureau from evaluating players at several recent exhibitions on the island. One scout who had been included in Alderson's meetings told Yahoo's Passan that the response reeked of raw panic, but the powerplay took on a more strategic air on Wednesday, when MLB responded in kind, shutting down a Dominican Prospect League game at the San Francisco Giants' complex in Boca Chica.

The DPL is an upstart four-team league launched last November to show off prospects in live games rather than through the ubiquitous Major League tryout. Indians manager Manny Acta and Yankees senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman sit on its advisory board, and the league has been praised by teams' scouts and produced a handful of signings. As recently as January, MLB vice president of international baseball operations Lou Melendez told, "the league is well-run and organized, and the concept is a good one," and labeled MLB an "interested observer" in the DPL's progress. 

That observation took on a different tone last week, according to an email from DPL president Brian Mejia to MLB Trade Rumors, when Alderson told him that the DPL would not be allowed to use any MLB-affiliated fields unless the scouting bureau was given access as well, and that teams may be directed not to attend DPL showcases in the future. A Friday meeting between DPL officials, Alderson and other MLB executives, Dominican Secretary of Sports Jay Payano, and a handful of independent scouts proved no more fruitful, according to Mejia. "We left the meeting with MLB's plan but no input was allowed by any part," he wrote. "We basically agreed to disagree."

Mejia said he and representatives for Dominican scouts will meet with MLB officials again in the coming week to address the impasse. Alderson told reporters on Thursday, "We value the contributions (buscones) make and we understand they're in a position where they can help," but he also defended the league's action at the Giants' complex to Hoy's Dionisio Soldevila, saying the scouting bureau is a reality, and if Dominican scouts want access to team academies they will have no choice but to adapt.

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7 Comments on "Dominican Scouts, MLB At Impasse Over Prospects"

5 years 4 months ago

Ok. Let`s make a little exercise. Imagine you are Bud Selig for a second (no, I know its not easy). You are running a multi million dollar business, which made the innovative and inteligent decision in the 1980’s to exploit foreign talent by paying dimes and pennies. You knew that this cheap talent was coming along with some baggage but you didnt care because there was no direct impact to your business (steroids were not prohibited, age fraud hadnt be discovered, buscones was just another latin jargon). Rapidly this decision to expand resulted so great that you also opened academies in Venezuela, and sent scouts to Central America. But then, 9-11 comes, and with it comes more restriction for politics to enter the US and with that you find out that your latin gems are getting older by the minute (literally), but you still dont care, because, after all, the multiplicity of birthdays would serve to entertain guys in the dougout. Then the PED issue begin to emerge and you try to salvage the damage by testing, and you find out your latin gems are consuming horse chemicals, not even found in the states, and now you are beginning to worry. Then you find that you`re top directors and even general managers are scamming major league teams by overpricing the bonus of prospects and sharing then with the buscones, and now you are really getting pissed. Moreover, you find out that the pennies you were paying in the 90’s have progressed into million dollar bonuses given in an open and not regulated market and are greatly surpassing your own boys in the 50 flag nation. Now you decide to take charge and send a guy who is known to be bold in his actions but also Ivy League polite. Now that you read all that you can come to 2 conclusions. Number 1: No way in the world that Alderson was sent to DR to implement other measures other than a draft. Number 2: We, domincans, had it coming!

5 years 4 months ago

Ditto Flex,
MLB has always known Latin Players were Older, But looking the other way because there bonus’s were pennies on the dollar.
Dominican Republic as an Under Developed country and poverty strucken country took the cheeting too far by insted of a kid lying about age just to get a chance to play.Now they try to get millions of dollars and where there is Money comes crooks. You would be surprised how many ways a bonus gets split once the kid signs. Smaller Buscones sell player to Bigger Buscons who sell a percentage to a Agent who then Bribs MLB Investigators with bonus $ and the Occaional Kickback to Scout. Kick backs to People posing as kids Parents and keeping people who know about the Scam Quite. The sad Part is the Actual Player is still getting pennies on the Dollar. Sad Situation. Hopefully it can get cleaned up without a Draft. This way Dominican Players can continue with the Oportunity to play

5 years 4 months ago

The fear many dominicans have is that the draft will decrease significantly the number of players signed, as has happened in Puerto Rico. I mean, buscones definitely fear their pockets will not get as much money as now, but they are not all dominicans!!

What is unfair is, an american player can be drafted and signed at the age of 22. If you are dominican, and you are 20, forget it. Why? well, americans took less time across the minors before they reach the majors. But, because if you are 19 you have a hard time getting signed, a lot of them lie about their age. And that was always that way, since dominicans started playing in MLB. Everybody knew that, of course MLB knew it.

BTW, 99% of the players signed still get pennies, bonuses of 5000 dollars or maybe 15000. Only a few get million dollar bonuses (a terrible idea, I don’t know any dominican player in the MLB who received a million dollar bonus, apparently they don’t work hard once they get so much money).

5 years 4 months ago

First off, the draft is designed to maximize the profits of the owners by limiting player leverage by not having a true free agent market for unsigned players. But most of these (US) players have a high school educations with possibilities of scholarships for higher education.
But unsigned foreign players do not have this institutional fall back of education. How many Dominicans have this option? How many are giving up a high school education for baseball at age 16? What fall back positions to these players have?
And now MLB wants to squeeze this group like US players by instating a world draft?
Sorry, but this reeks of imperialism.

5 years 4 months ago

While your humanitarian instinct is noble, it is not the job of MLB to provide better lives for people in foreign countries. The job of MLB is to find and sign talent to provide a product on a baseball diamond. Any feign of aid or education to people in foreign countries is an attempt to curry favor with them and sign them.

A draft is also protection for these players from being exploited by their street hustler agents. It also normalizes the hiring process in a way. They can create standard practices for ascertaining the true background of the players.

5 years 4 months ago

I find this interesting. It basically boils down to the fear MLB will stop being a cash-cow and stabilizer for a big chunk of the country, and kids who would grow up and get jobs with the help of MLB will instead become criminals and try to do little else.

My question then becomes, when did MLB become a Aid Agency?

5 years 4 months ago

It is absolutely ridiculous for MLB to continue allowing the buscones to act without responsability whatsoever over the age frauds and steroids, while making huge amount of money, while kids in the US are still required to finish high school and go to a draft. That`s why I do not have any doubt the draft is coming. Its just a matter of when.