Friday, July 13, 2012

Ballplayer: Pelotero Review

Pelotero is an interesting look at the world of International Free Agency, specifically in the Dominican Republic. The two players that are looked at closely in this movie are lesser known Jean Carlos Batista and top prospect Miguel Sano. I enjoyed it, which is rare for me with documentaries.

The movie takes a look at the harsh reality that exists in the Dominican. The Sano family had to endure a long investigation that really had no conclusion. After that, he was able to sign and begin his career with a team he chose, not the fate he was nearly forced into by the film's antagonist, Rene Gayo of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I won't get too deep into how it unfolds but it is a enthralling story that was told very well by the film makers.

MLB is looked at very harshly in this movie and if I were in the Dominican, I would look at them similarly. One man called them the mafia and that is understandable. They are this huge entity that controls their future and they are poor. It would seem daunting.

From the MLB's side, I can understand why they investigate and how the investigations return inconclusive. Documentation in the D.R. is poor and so many have lied because the value of their export only has value for a short time. It is sad that these players have to make the biggest decision of their life at 16 years old. If they are 17, they are past their prime in the D.R., which in many ways is crazy because identifying top talent at 17 is really hard. Seeing potential is not, seeing who is probable to succeed is really, really difficult. 

For the players, they are like fruit. They are ripe at 16 and are rotten by 17. They have one shot to get out of poverty and for many it is the only shot. For the good ones, they will get another shot for a good pay day in 6 years and the best of the best will make more for each year they play in the majors. 

One example in the movie, that will likely be missed by most, is a name that the agent mentions. He states Eskarlin Vasquez could get $1.8 million. As far as I know, he has never signed because his age was misrepresented. This reinforces why Sano was investigated but the effects are harsh on him and his family. He had to pay for the lies of others.

In one moment, a man calls the players merchandise. That is how they are treated. You can almost look at them as machines that are used to produce something. They may make their allotment, fall short or surpass it but you have to hope that what you invest, you get back. This is difficult and MLB is trying to reduce it's risk on machines that may have hidden flaws. It is cruel to look at it that way, but much of what happens to ball players outside of the U.S. is cruel. Many try to succeed and fail and the small few that do make it often live harsh lives because of their fame and fortune. A player such as Angel Villalona exemplifies this. If you don't know the story, google it.

I won't go into how well Jean Carlos Batista did when he signed as he is lower profile than Sano and most don't know what happened.

This is not the best review you could read of the movie. I'm not a movie reviewer but was given a unique opportunity to view it prior to it's release. I wasnt paid or reimbursed in any way for this. I just thought it was a movie worth watching. It isn't Sugar, which was fictional, this is the real deal and it includes the ups and downs of one of the best prospects in the game as he weighs his future. If you have found yourself at my site, you owe it to yourself to watch this film to see what some of the future stars in the game go thru as teenagers. The life they live is far from glamorous and it may change how you view the players you watch each night.


This compelling documentary narrated by John Leguizamo is a gritty and never before seen look inside the world of Major League Baseball (MLB) training camps in the Dominican Republic.  Miguel Angel and Jean Carlos are two of the top prospects at an MLB training camp, and they are both about to turn 16, which means they can be signed to an MLB farm team and ultimately move up to the majors.  Filmmakers Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin and Jonathan Paley take you inside this never before seen world for an up close and personal look at the cost of the American dream. 

Official Film Website

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