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 SI.com 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.
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