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Pelotero takes a look inside Dominican baseball

Peloteros hitting the ball

This month, in our article for Being Latino we take a look at Pelotero, a documentary by Guagua Productions and narrated by John Leguizamo, that focuses on the recruitment of young baseball players from the Domincan Republic.

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There was something about the way the ball made contact with the bat. The sound was distinct. Jon Paley, co-director of the recently released documentary, Pelotero, is describing his first encounter with teenage baseball phenom, Miguel Angel.

“As we are setting up the camera, we hear these cracks, that just sound different from everybody else’s and it just had a sound to it. And when you talk to (baseball) scouts about Miguel, that’s what they say. When he hits the ball, it sounds different. You could tell with Miguel that he was a man among boys.”

Jon Paley

Pelotero co-director, Jon Paley.

And there are thousands of young men from the Dominican Republic, specifically the Caribbean coastal town, San Pedro de Macorís, who are striving to be that special baseball player. Pelotero is a 77 minute documentary, filmed in 2009 in San Pedro de Macorís. The documentary is a highly entertaining, intimate, inside look at the training and showcasing of these teenage ballplayers. It follows prospects Miguel Angel Sanó and Jean Carlos Batista before the much anticipated annual signing day for Major League Baseball in the Dominican Republic.

That date, July 2, is no ordinary day on the calendar for young hopefuls. It’s the day when players learn exactly how much their natural born talents and years of intense training are worth to one of the thirty Major League Baseball Teams. It’s the day when a select few sign million dollar bonuses, instantly lifting their families out of abject poverty.

Pelotero is engaging and provocative, opening the door to questions and examination of the training, scouting and recruitment process of young Dominican baseball players. Contrary to U.S. players, Dominican ballplayers must be 16 years of age on July 2 in order to sign with a team; whereas their American counterparts must be at least 18. Many critics believe this age differential allows Dominican young men, especially those who show exceptional talent like Miguel Angel, to sign with teams before they are physically mature and able to command even higher bonuses.

Read the full article on Being Latino.

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