Find Post Investigations On:
Facebook Scribd Twitter
Friendfeed RSS Google Reader
» About This Blog | Meet the Investigative Team | Subscribe
Ongoing Investigation

Top Secret America

The Post explores the top secret world the government created in response to the attacks of Sept. 11.

Ongoing Investigation

The Hidden Life of Guns

How guns move through American society, from store counter to crime scene.

Have a Tip?

Talk to Us

If you have solid tips, news or documents on potential ethical violations or abuses of power, we want to know. Send us your suggestions.
• E-mail Us

Categories

Post Investigations
In-depth investigative news
and multimedia from The Washington Post.
• Special Reports
• The Blog

Reporters' Notebook
An insider's guide to investigative news: reporters offer insights on their stories.

The Daily Read
A daily look at investigative news of note across the Web.

Top Picks
A weekly review of the best
in-depth and investigative reports from across the nation.

Hot Documents
Court filings, letters, audits and other documents of interest.

D.C. Region
Post coverage of investigative news in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Washington Watchdogs
A periodic look into official government investigations.

Help! What Is RSS?
Find out how to follow Post Investigations in your favorite RSS reader.

Hot Comments

Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
— Posted by denamom, Obama's Quandary...

Recent Posts
Bob Woodward

The Washington Post's permanent investigative unit was set up in 1982 under Bob Woodward.


Archives
See what you missed, find what you're looking for.
Blog Archive »
Investigations Archive »

Have a Tip?
Send us information on ethics violations or abuses of power.
E-Mail Us »

Other
Investigations
Notable investigative projects from other news outlets.
On the Web »
Top Picks »

Report: Nats' 'Smiley' Isn't Who He Says He Is

POSTED: 05:21 PM ET, 02/18/2009 by Derek Kravitz

Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez was a highly-touted prospect in the Dominican Republic and a 16-year-old switch-hitter when the Washington Nationals signed him in July 2006, handing him a $1.4 million bonus.

At the time, the Nationals said publicly that Gonzalez's signing signaled that they would compete for "the best talent in Latin America." His glove was compared to Ozzie Smith's; his bat to Miguel Tejada. He told Washington Post reporter Barry Svrluga that his life had "been the same" since the signing. "The only thing is, we're just a lot more comfortable," he said.

But Smiley may not have been 16 at all. Gonzalez may not have even been his real name. Turns out "Smiley" might be 23-year-old Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, according to a Sports Illustrated report released today.

Nationals team president Stan Kasten is slated to address the Gonzalez report this afternoon in a media conference call.

The SI.com report notes that Basilio Vizcaino, a former minor leaguer for the Oakland Athletics, handled Gonzalez's negotiations with the Nationals (an agent handled offers from all other teams). The size of Gonzalez's bonus and Vizcaino's "close relationship" with Nationals officials "drew the attention of the FBI and Major League Baseball's department of investigations," the magazine says.

One of those close to Vizcaino is Jose Rijo, a special assistant to general manager Jim Bowden. Rijo, who is in training camp in Viera, Fla., as a pitching instructor, told MLB.com that he "didn't think there was anything suspicious" about Gonzalez.

"I saw him for 2 1/2 years [before he signed with the Nationals]," Rijo said. "At that time, he wasn't older. I don't know what to believe anymore. I don't want to say any more. I don't want to jeopardize the investigation."

Asked how disappointed he would be if Gonzalez wasn't who he said he was, Rijo said, "In the Dominican, you never know anymore. It has been going on for so long."

In an online chat this afternoon, Washington Post baseball writer Chico Harlan wrote that Smiley's signing was "a de facto declaration about (the Nationals') seriousness to scout in Latin America." He went on to say that the team's dealings in the Dominican Republic "just got messier:"

Let's just say that these guys had quietly been a little suspicious about Smiley's age all along. In Smiley's first year of minor league ball, he was supposedly 17. Really, in retrospect, he was 21. Body-wise alone, that is a big difference.

The FBI is already investigating Major League Baseball's scouting methods in Latin America, probing allegations of money-skimming practices. "So far, Washington is one of the teams to surface in the probe, with Gonzalez's signing drawing particular suspicion," The Post reports.

By Derek Kravitz |  February 18, 2009; 5:21 PM ET
Previous: Burris's Changing Testimony | Next: Clouds Gather Over Burris, PMA's Friends in High Places, UBS to Open Secret Files

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company