• Review of Ballplayer: Pelotero

    On Sunday, one of the directors of the documentary Ballplayer: Pelotero came to the Twins Daily forums and after letting us know where the movie could be viewed, answered several questions from readers. Iíve read so much about the film, watched trailers and eagerly anticipated being able to see it. I didnít know how I would be able to view it since I donít live in a metro area.

    Thankfully, it is available through several sources right now. Some cable providers have made it available as On Demand. It can currently be seen at St. Anthony Main Theatre in Minneapolis and other select theaters around the country. It is also available on iTunes, which is how I watched it.



    Obviously the key draw to this documentary for Twins fans is the fact that one of its main Ďcharactersí is Twins top prospect Miguel Sano who is referred to as Miguel Angel (his middle name) throughout the movie. Itís an interesting look at his life and the pressure on him even as a 15 year old. But, it also is a nice glimpse into his personality. It is understandable why his nickname is ďBocatonĒ (translated to ďBig MouthĒ). He is a fun-loving kid with the world of talent.

    Fred Guerrero, the Twins scout in the Dominican, also has several quotes in the movie, early in the process and even after he signed.

    It was also an open look at how the recruitment process affected him and his entire family. He had to go through rigorous and very personal tests in an attempt to prove his age to MLB, teams and more.



    The movie certainly points to the Pirates scout (Rene Gayo) who did whatever was necessary to get Sano to sign with him, including some very non-ethical maneuvers. As the director commented in our forum,
    ďRene Gayo and the Pittsburgh Pirates were able to scare off many other teams because of unfounded concerns about Miguel's age. The Twins did a very brave thing by stepping up and signing him. And hopefully they will be rewarded for it for years to come. Fred Guerrero the DR scouting director is a really great guy and knew from day one that this kid was special.Ē

    Did you know that 20% of all players in the big leagues and the minor leagues come from The Dominican Republic, a country with just 2% of the population of the United States?

    Most of those players sign for very small bonuses that are important for their families. Many are just represented by their mentor/ trainer/ coach at various academies. However, a player like Sano also had his own agent. Sano grew up very poor, in very humble surroundings. His agent moved him and his family and extended family into a nicer area of town.

    Jean Carlos Batista is the other 16 year old whose trek is documented in the film. The switch-hitting shortstop hoped to receive a signing bonus of $1.5 to $1.8 million. He was offered significantly less than that after going to several tryout camps. But later on, Batistaís mom admitted to his trainer and coach Astin Jacobo that he was actually a year older than he claimed. When Jean was ten, his parents found a way to ďchangeĒ his age, and they ran with it. See how that admission affected his eventual signing bonus as well as his relationship with his trainer.

    One of the trainers made the comment that kids come to their academies when they are as young as 13 or 14. He compared it to a harvest in which they plant seeds, put in time and energy and at the end of the day (when a player signs), they sell it. Trainers generally get a percentage (As much as 35%) of signing bonuses.

    This is a documentary. Itís not Major League, so you wonít be laughing the whole time (although there are some funny moments). Itís not The Natural or Field of Dreams where everything is wonderful or even mystical at the end of the day. It is, in a way, baseballís version of Hoop Dreams, the excellent documentary of two young basketball players as they worked from middle school to high school. In my mind, itís a great movie for Twins fans as we get a glimpse of a young Miguel Sano and all he endured to get signed. Itís a great movie for all baseball fans as it captures what it is like to be a kid in the Dominican Republic and how much effort goes into getting signed, and how much it means for their families for the kids to be signed.

    I definitely recommend viewing Ballplayer: Pelotero if you have the chance! I'm not going to pretend to be a movie critic and know how to analyze greatness in a movie, particularly in a documentary. One way I determine whether or not I really liked a movie is how I feel when the movie comes to an end. At the end of this movie, I wanted it to keep going. I wanted to know what happened next. Obviously as Twins fans, we know how Miguel Sano is doing on the field, but what's going on off-the-field too and how has he adapted to playing and living in America? Well, you'll be happy to know that the same cast has occasionally been following Sano through his minor league time the last couple of years and do plan on another documentary following his career (hopefully) to the big leagues!

    Learn much more about the characters and the movie at the Official Ballplayer: Pelotero website.
    This article was originally published in blog: Review of Ballplayer: Pelotero started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      You can view the page at http://www.twinsdaily.com/content.ph...layer-Pelotero
    1. Cody Christie's Avatar
      Cody Christie -
      Thanks for the recap Seth. I am looking forward to seeing this movie in the near future.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Thanks! I'd love to hear what others who have seen the movie thought about it too.
    1. Gardy32's Avatar
      Gardy32 -
      Glad to hear they're doing a follow up as well! I'm seeing this tomorrow night at St. Anthony Main.
      Kind of a shame it's only playing through this thursday...
    1. BallplayerPelotero's Avatar
      BallplayerPelotero -
      Hey Everyone,

      Thanks for the support. Seth, I just saw your review. Really appreciate it! We also just got some good news I wanted to share with our Minnesota fans. The St. Anthony Main theater in Minneapolis has decided to hold the film for another week. Unfortunately we are competing with the Dark Knight (this is the movie Minneapolis needs) so we won't have as many showings but I hope you all continue to get a chance to go check it out. I will be popping back in throughout the week, so don't hesitate to pose questions or comments after you see it (no spoilers please!).

      Thanks,

      Jon Paley
      Director - Ballplayer: Pelotero
    1. BallplayerPelotero's Avatar
      BallplayerPelotero -
      Thanks for the review Seth! Glad you liked it. We just got some good news that the St. Anthony Main theater has decided to extend us for another week. We won't have as many showings because we will be competing with The Dark Knight, but it will be another chance for fans like Gardy32 to go check it out until the 26th.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I merged the threads to avoid multiple posting and confusion.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Reports are that the Commissioner's Office is not terribly thrilled with the way MLB is reflected in your movie. Personally, if Bud Selig doesn't like something, I assume I'm more likely to approve of it, myself, but I'm curious whether MLB could make your follow-up project more difficult to complete. I'm not sure what kind of pressure they could apply to minor league franchises or even Sano himself to discourage them from cooperating with you or giving you the access you'd need to complete the second project. Have you started to run in to that sort of problem yet?
    1. davidjcampbell's Avatar
      davidjcampbell -
      As soon as I saw it advertised on AG.com I knew I needed to check this out. I'll probably be at St Anthony Main tomorrow night as well. Looking forward to it!
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Reports are that the Commissioner's Office is not terribly thrilled with the way MLB is reflected in your movie. Personally, if Bud Selig doesn't like something, I assume I'm more likely to approve of it, myself, but I'm curious whether MLB could make your follow-up project more difficult to complete. I'm not sure what kind of pressure they could apply to minor league franchises or even Sano himself to discourage them from cooperating with you or giving you the access you'd need to complete the second project. Have you started to run in to that sort of problem yet?
      I agree!

      I am excited to see it. Comcast (at least in Indiana) has in On Demand.

      I was thinking it may be like Hoop Dreams (which may be the best documentary ever made).
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Reports are that the Commissioner's Office is not terribly thrilled with the way MLB is reflected in your movie. Personally, if Bud Selig doesn't like something, I assume I'm more likely to approve of it, myself, but I'm curious whether MLB could make your follow-up project more difficult to complete. I'm not sure what kind of pressure they could apply to minor league franchises or even Sano himself to discourage them from cooperating with you or giving you the access you'd need to complete the second project. Have you started to run in to that sort of problem yet?
      I assumed Selig was to busy fixing exhibition games and meaningless home run derby rules instead of worrying about MLB's image issues, declining ratings, etc.
    1. Fatt Crapps's Avatar
      Fatt Crapps -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      I assumed Selig was to busy fixing exhibition games and meaningless home run derby rules instead of worrying about MLB's image issues, declining ratings, etc.
      Don't forget about the WBC. I really hope they do away with those games, the players are super rusty and it's completely uninteresting.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Reports are that the Commissioner's Office is not terribly thrilled with the way MLB is reflected in your movie. Personally, if Bud Selig doesn't like something, I assume I'm more likely to approve of it, myself, but I'm curious whether MLB could make your follow-up project more difficult to complete. I'm not sure what kind of pressure they could apply to minor league franchises or even Sano himself to discourage them from cooperating with you or giving you the access you'd need to complete the second project. Have you started to run in to that sort of problem yet?
      Anything Bud Selig disapproves of is good for the game...

      I am planning on watching the movie in DC this weekend...lucky I live in a metro area...
    1. Esoteric Ball Guy's Avatar
      Esoteric Ball Guy -
      Bringing the lady to see it tonight. Originally I was planning on finding tickets to the Twins game, but I was there for Liriano's masterpiece on Friday, and I'm pretty sure he can't top that so it'll be a movie night instead.
    1. Jeff P's Avatar
      Jeff P -
      I saw it today, good movie. The comparisons to Hoop Dreams are valid on several levels. What made Hoop Dreams somewhat more compelling was that it followed the main players for several years so you felt like you got to know them really well. Still I enjoyed it and it was fun to see more of Sano's personality.

      I can see why some in MLB are upset, yikes both MLB and the guy from the Pirates come out looking really bad.
    1. davidjcampbell's Avatar
      davidjcampbell -
      I saw the movie last night - I thought it was great.

      I particularly liked the English class scene and I am picturing Sano living in Southern Wisconsin.

      I have looked but cannot find any information about the soundtrack - I also really enjoyed the music. Any info on the track listing out there?
    1. BrentMpls's Avatar
      BrentMpls -
      I saw the movie at St. Anthony Main yesterday - I enjoyed it. An analogy is made to raising crops being the same idea in raising ballplayers - and that is reinforced strongly throughout the film. You are exposed to a bit of the negatives on both sides of this process (trainer and family // vs // MLB) and get a slice of these two players experience in that process.

      Worth seeing.
    1. Turd Furgeson's Avatar
      Turd Furgeson -
      I saw it on Amazon.com yesterday. It was very well done. Pittsburgh ends up looking really bad in this movie with the way they tried to strong arm Sano into signing with them.
    1. BrentMpls's Avatar
      BrentMpls -
      Quote Originally Posted by Turd Furgeson View Post
      Pittsburgh ends up looking really bad in this movie with the way they tried to strong arm Sano into signing with them.
      Whats really interesting is Rene Gayo is still employed by Pitt.
    1. Mike in SD's Avatar
      Mike in SD -
      I just watched the movie via iTunes and loved it. There weren't any huge revelations to me about the international signing system, but it was a well-pieced together story to illustrate how messed up the system is, how there are people manipulating the international signing system to their own benefit, and how the people hurt by the corruption vastly outnumber those responsible. Most of all, it was nice to see where Sanů came from and I can't wait to see Bocatůn up with the Twins!
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