The Rays Tank: Identity crisis and the incentive to lie

Patrick McDermott

The 2013 Rays entered camp with three Domincan players that lied about their age and/or identity to find playing time in the states.

Given the presence of Roberto Hernandes and Juan Carlos Oviedo on the Rays roster, formerly Fausto Carmona and Leo Nunez respectively, the topic of Domincan players feeling the pressure to change their names and ages to reach baseball in America has become a topic on interest in Port Charlotte this spring.

In an interview with Roger Mooney, the talkative Joel Peralta provided insight on his homeland's culture, and related to Hernandez and Oviedo. When he was 20, Peralta falsified his own documents to make his age 16 in order to impress baseball scouts.

"I wish I never had to do that, but if I didn't do it I wouldn't be here," Peralta said... The chance that the guys here in the United States get, they can be drafted when they're 22, they get a chance to play pro ball. We don't have that. The only chance when you're 20, like I was, to sign was the lie about your age."

[...]

"If the only chance that you can become a ballplayer, knowing that you got a chance to become a big-league player and help yourself and your family to a better life and that's the only way and you're not killing anybody, would you do it? Who wouldn't?"

Peralta was pitching in the Angels organization at AA when team officials learned about his falsified age. In turn, the team changed his age in the media guide and the issue was laid to rest. Other players like Hernandez and Oviedo were not so lucky, and were each arrested while spending their winters in the Dominican.

In Mooney's article, he quotes Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon on the concept of bringing in players with legal identity issues, but neither thought it had any bearing on a player's character or performance. "I have no idea what that has to do with the price of tea anywhere," Maddon said.

LINKS

- Jason Collette examines the new minor league opt-out clause, and its potential impact on Rays players, including the difficult test case of Oviedo.

- Baseball America covered the success of the University of Tampa in delivering major league baseball players yesterday - and if you don't have a subscription, Rays Colored Glasses provides some insight to their findings.

- Marc Topkin profiled new Rays groundball specialist and journeyman Jamey Wright for today's Times, noting he has one thing on his mind: postseason baseball.

- The mentor and gentleman that he is, Jose Molina hosted the Puerto Rican baseball academy in Port Charlotte yesterday.

- Cesar Ramos and the Rays announced that he will be joining Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

- Rays Renegade reports that A.J. Pierzynski made a call to the Tampa Bay front office this off-season, but talks never escalated.

- Finally, Dave Cameron begs you to remember that projections are not the same thing as predictions (and all the White Sox fans are noddin their heads).

UPDATE:

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