It looks like some heads will definitely roll in Washington D.C. not for anything political, related to the economy or for anything else other than yet another baseball scandal. It’s going to be interesting how this team handles this situation considering the amount of money given to a prospect — a whopping $1.4 million — who suddenly aged four years and who is someone else all together.
I smell a conspiracy — a big one. For a franchise looking to gain credibility among the national media and it’s fanbase, this has to sting.
A top baseball prospect from the Dominican Republic who received a $1.4 million signing bonus from the Washington Nationals lied about his age and name in what team president Stan Kasten called “an elaborate scheme.”
“I’m angry. I’m very angry. We’ve been defrauded,” Kasten said on Wednesday. “And make no mistake: This wasn’t a college kid with a fake ID.”
“This was a deliberate, premeditated fraud” that involved bribes, along with falsified hospital and school records, Kasten said.
In July 2006, to much fanfare, the Nationals signed a 16-year-old shortstop named Esmailyn “Smiley” Gonzalez and held a news conference at which general manager Jim Bowden compared the player to U.S. Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith. Still known as Gonzalez, he wound up leading the rookie-level Gulf Coast League with a .343 batting average in 2008.
But while the Nationals have been listing his date of birth as Sept. 21, 1989 — which would make him 19 now — Kasten said on Wednesday that a Major League Baseball investigation determined Gonzalez was actually Carlos David Alvarez Lugo, born in November 1985 — meaning he was really 23.
“This is going to have serious repercussions,” Kasten said. “I have people examining all possible avenues of recourse, with regards to any legal and financial concerns.”
While Kasten said there were “a number of people involved” in the hoax, he would not say whether anyone employed by the Nationals was suspected of playing a role.
As for the player, Kasten said: “This is a big difference between being a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old. Do I know what his future holds as a baseball player? I don’t. I would say clearly he remains a prospect — but I would say a very different kind of prospect — today. I’m not prepared to say what is going to happen in his career just yet.”
Oh boy, are things going to get ugly in Washington. One could expect general manager Jim Bowden to be on the hot seat, if not out of a job…