SI.com revealed last night that a "Nationals Prospect Falsified Identity". Esmailyn Gonzalez, listed by the Nats as being 19 years old, is really Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, 23.
This is is yet another black eye for a Washington Nationals franchise that just can't seem to get out of its own way. Not even a full week has gone by since the signing of Adam Dunn, and the team gets this bombshell. It's not A-Rod big, but in the grand scheme of things it's plenty disappointing, on so many levels.
SI.com writer Melissa Segura figured it out. Why couldn't Jim Bowden, Jose Rijo and Jose Baez (the Nats Director of Ops in the D.R.)? The cynic will point toward the ridiculously high signing bonus the Nats extended to the player and his buscon (street agent), Basilio Vizcaino...So a 19-year old prospect winning a batting title in a gulf coast rookie league for two seasons turns out to be a 23 -year old dominating competition several years younger.
It's not a new story in baseball, but this version has a couple of particularly disturbing aspects: the amount of money involved, the familiarity of the parties involved in the negotiation, and the continuing misplaced trust in members of the Nationals' organization.
Remember, the Nats signed the shortstop in 2006 with a $1.4 million signing bonus, twice what the next highest bidder offered. Also remember, all the negotiations for the other teams in the bidding process were handled by an agent, except the Nats' offer, which was coordinated by Vizcaino, a childhood friend of Rijo and protege of Baez.
Oh, and by the way, Jose Rijo owns the academy the Nationals use as their "base" in the Dominican.
No wonder the situation drew the eye of the Feds. The deal originally sparked the federal investigation of the Nats organization for bonus money skimming, and with these latest allegations, expect even more scrutiny from the FBI and MLB's own investigation department.
And just when you started feeling good about NatsTown (tm), yet another shoe drops. Doesn't someone need to be held accountable for this?