Baseball Prospect Claimed He Was Just 16 to Get $1M Bonus

Claiming he was three years younger seemed to enhance his potential

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    NEWSLETTERS

    San Diego Padres
    The baseball team was fooled by a prospect who said he was just 16 years old.

    A 19-year-old baseball prospect claimed he was just 16 to make it appear he had greater potential and win a $1 million signing bonus.

    Jorge Guzman, who claimed his name was Alvaro Aristy, later admitted his real age and the San Diego Padres recouped most of their money through an insurance policy, according to Baseball America. Now 22, Aristy has struggled in the low minor leagues and is no longer considered a viable prospect.

    Baseball scouts have long combed the sandlots of Guzman's native Dominican Republic, looking for young and talented players they can sign and then mold into future stars. The younger the player, the more upside.

    "Alvaro Aristy is a 16-year old SS who draws comparisons to a young Tony Fernandez," wrote one scout after seeing Guzman play. "A slick fielder with a strong arm and vacuum-like hands, Aristy projects as a true shortstop. His superior hand-eye coordination also serves him well at the plate where he has the ability to consistently put the barrel on the ball. With the inevitable increase in size and strength, we believe his skills will play offensively as well as defensively."

    Major League Baseball launched a probe after receiving a tip, and Guzman quickly admitted the fraud last year. Sources told Baseball America that Guzman's family and friends were in on the deception.

    Still, the team has not totally given up on Guzman, who was also suspended in 2009 after testing positive for steroids. He is playing in the Dominican instructional league this winter.

    "We're obviously evaluating where he is," said Randy Smith, the team's vice president of player development and international scouting. "He still shows really good hands and hand-eye coordination. His bat and body have not come along as how we projected back in '08, but we still like the defense and the arm strength, those things, so we'll take a look at him in instructional league in January. Whether he comes over (to the United States) remains to be seen."