Ballplayer: Pelotero

Aug 28, 2012

An excellent study of Major League Baseball recruiting in the Dominican Republic.

Ballplayer: Pelotero
Grade: A
Directors: Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin, John Paley
Screenplay: Documentary
Rating: NR
Runtime: 77 min.
by John DeSando

“It’s like when you go and harvest the land, you put the seed in . . . water it . . . and when it grows, you sell it.” Trainer

Baseball is a simple sport when compared with the complex plays of football or the manic motion of soccer. Ballplayer: Pelotero gives an inside look at the complexity of Major League Baseball’s signing 16 year-old players from the Dominican Republic from the point of view of the young players.

Jean Carlos Batista and Miguel Angel Sano are hot prospects turning 16 in time to qualify for the July 2 draft in the Dominican Republic. That they are gifted is certified by the number of teams looking carefully at the prospects.

The documentary shifts to Angel as MLB is investigating his age, suspecting he may be older that the prime of 16.  Because of the poor record keeping in the republic and some notorious faking, the accurate age is the defining issue of this suspenseful doc.

While millions of dollars can be involved in the bonus for signing, to sign older than 16 means a decrease in money. Since these boys are coming from poverty, these bonuses are their hopes for elevating their families. Although both are playing pro ball now, their situation in the film as they approach July 2 concentrates on the demands of the leagues and the honesty of the boys’ handlers. 

Ballplayer is one of the best documentaries ever about baseball at its most basic. The filmmakers allow everyone involved to voice their opinions while much of the time they’re exposing their ambition or showing their ignorance.
For the young recruits, no romantic thoughts about the pursuit of excellence are present—just thoughts of money.
Fascinating stuff and the national anthem hasn’t yet played!

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at
He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel
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