Three years ago 16-year-old Dominican middle infielder Alvaro Aristy signed with the Padres for $1 million as one of the top international prospects available that season.
Since then he’s hit .169 while failing to advance beyond rookie-ball and now Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that Aristy’s real name is Jorge Leandro Guzman and his real age at the time of the signing was 19.
MLB investigator Dan Mullin told Badler that they first got a tip about Aristy/Guzman in January of 2010 and he quickly fessed up, but because of an “administrative error” there was no immediate suspension.
Now he’s a 22-year-old rookie-ball hitter with a .169 career batting average and has played the past three seasons in the Dominican Summer League in part because he can’t obtain a work visa for the United States. Oh, and Aristy/Guzman was also suspended 50 games in 2009 after testing positive for an anabolic steroid before anyone knew of his faked identity.
Badler’s article is definitely worth reading for all the weird details, but the good news for the Padres is that they recouped most of the $1 million signing bonus thanks to an insurance policy.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.