Friday Flicks: Ballplayer: Pelotero


The offseason can be tough on baseball fans. Why not get your baseball fix through the Silver Screen? All offseason long, check out “Friday Flicks” at lunchtime for a baseball movie review. Want to suggest a movie for review? Comment below with the title.

Last week, I reviewed a lighthearted baseball classic.  Today’s flick is a completely different kind of baseball film.  Ballplayer:  Pelotero (2011) is a documentary that engages the viewer in the life of two of the 100,000 baseball prospects in the Dominican Republic.  The teens are fighting for a chance to sign a contract with a Major League Baseball franchise and provide a way to bring their families out of poverty.  The pressure to sign young has lead to corruption, and corruption has created a cloud of suspicion around young players of exceptional talent.

For the Minnesota Twins fan, there is an extra draw to the film, as one of the two prospects it follows is Miguel Angel Sanó.  Sanó was ranked 18th on Baseball America’s list of 2012 Top 100 Prospects and spent the 2012 season with the Beloit Snappers in the Midwest League.  Despite the fact that he signed with the Twins three years ago, the film communicates the difficulties Sanó encounters and the suspense of the situation so well that it’s hard not to question the outcome as the story unfolds.  The story of the second prospect, Jean Carlos Batista, illustrates the great importance of the signing bonus and the tightrope a prospect can walk when a contract is negotiated.

The documentary predated the now-infamous Fausto Carmona/Robert Hernandez Heredia scandal that broke in January 2012, an event which only underscores why this film is so compelling.  The story is compelling because the drama is real.  Families’ hopes and dreams rest on these strong, but very young, shoulders.

Is it a hit? I give it a triple:  The documentary engages like a feature film.  For a Minnesota Twins fan, that the story hits close to home serves to heighten the drama.  At 77 minutes, it’s a brief glimpse into a piece of the baseball world that is usually hidden from view underrated in importance.

Come back next Friday for a review of a late ’90s flick that tells the story of the most important game in one pitcher’s life.