Pelotero (Ross Finkel, 2011) Dominican Republic, USA
Reviewed by Brendan Beaghler. Viewed at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.
Pelotero is a documentary about two young Dominican Republican baseball athletes with their eyes set on getting signed by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team after they turn 16. The film was in Spanish and had English subtitles, but had some moments of when they interviewed Americans that was in English. Besides being in the Santa Barbara Film Festival it was also in the Hamptons International Film Festival. The Major League Baseball (MLB) has invested a lot of money in the Dominican Republic because of the great baseball players they have produced, such as David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero, and numerous other big time players. The film shows the corruption and manipulation that major league baseball teams have on signing these Dominican Republic athletes and how signing with an MLB team is there key to a better life.
The two players highlighted in this film are two young young athletes, Miguel Angel Sano and Jean Carlos Batista. They both understand that being signed by an MLB team is there chance to create a better life for themselves and their families. July 2nd is a big day for these two athletes because it is the day MLB teams are allowed to sign them. The documentary is starts a couple months before July 2nd. Miguel Angel Sano plays shortstop and is said to be the best player from the Dominican Republic and a future franchise star in the MLB. He was expected to have a record breaking signing bonus, but rumors about his age postponed his signing day. Since some players from the Dominican Republic were discovered lying about their age, the MLB has started a grueling process to make sure their future investments are actually sixteen. This was the problem for Miguel Angel Sano because he was such a phenomenal athlete rumors began to circulate about his age. This postponed his signing day because no team wanted to have to give him as much money as he deserved if he was over sixteen years old. He had to undergo a bone marrow test and blood test and the MLB investigated his school and hospital records in order to discover his true age. They finally could not find any evidence to prove that is actually age was not sixteen. So after 8 months of investigation, he finally signed with the Minnesota Twins for 3.5 million dollars. The other athlete highlighted in this film is Jean Carlos Batista, who is another shortstop. He left home at 13 years old to live with his trainer to began training to be signed by the MLB. Jean Carlos Batista is a very talented, but has a giant chip on his shoulder which ultimately leads him to getting a lower signing bonus then he anticipates. He rejects his first offer for 400,000 dollar signing bonus, and then a few weeks later without signing with any team it is discovered he actually lied about his age. If a player is discovered to lie about their age, they are suspended from signing with any team by the MLB for one year. He eventually signs with Arizona Diamond Backs, but gets much less then his initial offer.
The was a very informative documentary and taught me a lot about another aspect of baseball I had no idea about.The film really does a great way depicting of how the MLB team do whatever they can to sign these young athletes for less money, which was the case about Miguel Angel Sano. I was appalled by how these young athletes are treated by the MLB, but the MLB is a monopoly and they can do pretty much whatever they want. It was not the best documentary I have seen because it was done on such a low budget. However they still produced a good documentary. I am looking forward to seeing these players in some professional baseball games.