is already upsetting officials of Major League Baseball for its shocking
portrayal of the league's corrupt recruitment practices in the Dominican
Republic, arguably the world's most fertile breeding ground for great
players. The film follows two
sixteen-year-old prospects, Miguel Angel Sano and Juan Carlos Batista, as they
vie for a multi-million dollar signing deal from the MLB. Both incredibly talented players, as
well as incredibly poor, the early portions of the film explore the nature of
the business in the Dominican Republic.
Much face time is dedicated to both players' trainers, who work
tirelessly for a deferred percentage of a signing that may never come.
Later, though, as the day the MLB begins officially, for
lack of a better word, purchasing players approaches, the film turns to explore
the insidious nature of America's favorite pastime in South America. Sano, a top-ranked prospect, suddenly
finds himself under ceaseless, unnecessary scrutiny over
his age, drastically reducing the amount of money he could have made. Meanwhile, Batista's arrogance starts
to cost him opportunities to play in the majors. Both parallel stories are fascinating portrayals of how the
dreams of these teenagers come into conflict with harsh reality, but it is Sano's
story that reveals just how much ruthlessness and greed runs the sports
industry. The images of Batista
and Sano excelling in their passion of playing baseball are enduring, but the lasting
value of Ballplayer will be the ugly
shadow it casts on everything surrounding the game.