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Report: Top Nats Prospect Lied About Age

According to a report released late Tuesday night on Sports Illustrated's web site, one of the Nationals' top prospects, 19-year-old shortstop and Dominican native Esmailyn Gonzalez, is not who he claims to be. Instead, writer Melissa Segura claims, he's actually a 23-year-old named Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, and he was able to convince the Nationals to give him a $1.4 million signing bonus -- a record for a Nationals Latin American prospect -- because of his age.

There will be much more about this on Nationals Journal in the coming hours, so keep your eyes peeled there for further developments and potential reaction from team officials. Until then, here's the basic storyline.

For the sake of this post, we'll continue to call the shortstop Gonzalez, until he's identity as Lugo has been confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt. If it eventually is, it will serve as another black eye to the Nationals Latin American scouting division, which came under fire last summer.

The report cites murky dealings in the Nationals' negotiations for Gonzalez, claiming that the player's buscon -- a role akin to an amateur trainer who receives a percentage of the player's future signing bonus as payment for his tutelage -- negotiated a deal with Washington in part because of his friendship with Jose Rijo, a special assistant to General Manager Jim Bowden and the protege of Jose Baez, the head of the organization's Dominican Republic operations.

Gonzalez has spent two years in Washington's minor league system, and has yet to progress above the rookie Gulf Coast League. He was the league's MVP last year, when he hit .343 with an on base percentage of .431. He's still listed as the team's No. 10 overall prospect by Baseball America, and was slated to join the team for spring training, an effort which has since been thwarted by visa problems connected to his falsified identity.

By Cameron Smith  |  February 18, 2009; 12:37 AM ET
Categories:  Nationals  
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Wonderful news. Next we'll hear that he has a stupid cousin named A-Rod.

Posted by: Ted_Striker | February 18, 2009 1:38 AM | Report abuse

This happens a lot. Remember a few years back when something like 40 MLB palyers turned out to be 2-3 years older than everyone thought they were? Andruw Jones is likey not 31 years old, for instance. Miguel Tejada aged two extra years in an instant when he came clean to the Astros. Rafi Furcal turned out to be 3 years older. Lots of guys have turned out ot be older than reported: Manny Aybar, Bartolo Colón, Deivi Cruz, Octavio Dotel, David Ortiz, Ramon Ortiz, Luis Polonia, Alfonso Soriano, Luis Vizcaino, and Enrique Wilson. So, it's not like the Nats should feel special in having landed one.

Posted by: dfh123 | February 18, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Man you can't make this stuff up. Just what the doctor ordered, the most preceived disfunctional organization in the league continues to blunder its way around latin america

Posted by: TippyCanoe | February 18, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

and Bowden thought he was pulling something on the rest of the league when he signed this bum who EVEN USED A FAKE NAME!

Posted by: nativedc | February 18, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

buscón? ladrón? the nice man said that his 35% of the 1.4M was going to build a big house for orphans. so sue me for being a nice guy. neither barry, the prez, nor barry, the mayor for life, nor i are saps, tho. you can take that to the bank

no talk of raising the DR signing age to 18, please. we all know that high school is a waste of time, yes? we regret to inform you that a diploma will be necessary in order to admit you to our institution of higher learning. warmly, miami-dade community college.

“dominicans are not used to following rules.” now that is pure libel. they may not follow rules as well as, say, the cubans do, but their steroids are just as good as any steroids anywhere in the world. you say that smiley lugo was not 16? you’re right. he was 12. the steroids did their job, no?

estoy firmado! go away fbi! ymos jimb

Posted by: dhfrancoise | February 18, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

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