Global Baseball

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Aybar AWOL

Well, this is kind of weird.  Dominican infielder Willy Aybar, who injured his wrist over the winter playing in the Dominican Winter League, apparently took off for 3 days without letting club officials know where he was.   Aybar has been suspended for three games.

Back when he was a Dodgers’ prospect, Aybar was the subject of the most highly publicized expose to date on the rampant corruption that pervades the buscon system in the Dominican Republic.  Signed for $1.4 million (close to the bonus at the time for a Dominican teenager) in 2000 after years of tutelage from legendary buscon Enrique Soto, Aybar received a great deal of press as a minor leaguer when the Washington Post got wind of suspicious activity regarding the first installment of his bonus check.  The first installment, (about $490,000 after taxes) never actually made its way to the Aybar family after being sent to Soto through Aybar’s American agent Rob Plummer.  All that came down to the family was 100,000 Dominican Pesos (about $6,000 back then – about $3,000 today).

You can read about the whole sordid business here.

Some choice quotes that give a sense of the character of the people involved:

A copy of the canceled check, obtained by The Post, shows two signatures: Willy Aybar’s and Enrique Soto’s. Guerra, who has examined a microfiche copy held by the Dodgers, said Aybar’s signature did not appear to match the one on his contract. Guerra said Aybar’s signature on the check “appears to be the same handwriting as the person who signed for Soto.”

“I never signed that check,” said Aybar, who had been unaware that a check needed to be endorsed before it could be cashed. “He must have signed it for me.”

And

Asked about Francia Aybar’s claim that Soto paid her 100,000 pesos, roughly $6,250, then put her on a monthly stipend of 30,000 pesos, about $1,875, Soto responded: “And how much should I have given her?”

And we can’t leave this one out:

Soto said he was unconcerned about the allegations. “I’m like Jesus Christ,” he said. “I’ve got the truth in the palm of my hand.”

American agents take between 3-5% of clients’ signing bonuses.  Admittedly, stateside agents do not provide anything close to the services the buscones have to provide for their almost always impoverished, often illiterate clients.  Nutrition, weight training, and instruction is undoubtedly worth a substantial cut of what these kids bring in, but there is a long way to go towards establishing standards to protect these kids.  Aybar’s one of the fortunate ones – he actually made it to the major leagues and got another substantial pay day out of his talent that Enrique Soto can not touch.

The buscon system is the single biggest reason baseball needs to institute an international draft.

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April 17, 2007 - Posted by | Buscon System, Dominican Baseball, Willy Aybar

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