Dominican Baseball Trainer Accused of Sexual Abuse
Enrique Soto, trainer of teenage baseball prospects in the Dominican Republic has been accused by two of his former players of sexually abusing them, adding to a list of recent scandals in the procurement of Latin American talent by Major League Baseball teams.


Enrique Soto, one of the most prominent Dominican buscones — local quasi-coaches who typically receive significant portions of their players’ signing bonuses — has been detained in the town of Bani, a prosecutor told The Associated Press.

The names of the players were not revealed. The prosecutor, Francis Valdez, said that the players, who are brothers, say that Soto abused them over six months in 2003, when they were 16 and 17. Valdez also told The A.P. that a judge ordered Soto held while authorities investigate.

It does not appear that the brothers are current major leaguers who worked with Soto — Erick and Willy Aybar, who would have been older in 2003 — or the future most valuable player Miguel Tejada, now with the San Francisco Giants.

The allegations add another chapter to baseball’s continuing saga in the Dominican Republic, where teams bid for teenagers often desperate to sign professional contracts. The relatively open environment has led to several scandals that have caused Major League Baseball to attempt stronger oversight, with limited results.

Players have misrepresented their ages in order to appear more valuable or have adopted other people’s identities. In 2009, it was discovered that the Washington Nationals prospect Esmailyn Gonzalez, 19, who had received a $1.4 million bonus, was actually Carlos David Alvarez Lugo, 23.

Some major league team scouts and officials are believed to have skimmed money from the bonuses of players who were either unaware of it or powerless to complain. Buscones are subject to almost no oversight, and after training a player for three or four years can demand up to 50 percent of a player’s signing bonus.

Soto has been involved in at least two specific episodes. When Tejada signed his first professional contract in 1993, with Soto as his buscone, he told the Oakland Athletics that he was 17, rather than his true age, 19.

In 2001, The Washington Post reported that Willy Aybar, then a minor leaguer, said he believed Soto — who had trained him since he was 13 — had pocketed the first installment of his $1.4 million bonus, almost $500,000. Soto later repaid $200,000 to Aybar.

Sandy Alderson, a longtime baseball executive, headed Major League Baseball’s efforts to improve the situation in the Dominican Republic before becoming the Mets’ general manager this off-season. He was replaced by Jorge Perez, a lawyer who had been working with Alderson on several reforms, which included occasional DNA testing to verify a player’s family lineage.

Pat Courtney, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, said it learned of the current allegations against Soto on Thursday morning and alerted Perez.

“Right now it’s a matter for the legal authorities there,” Courtney said.


Source: New York Times

Go back | Date: 03 Mar 2011
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