Baseball looking to crack down on identity and age fraud in the D.R.

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The New York Times reports that Major League Baseball is looking to get proactive in an effort to combat OhMyGodHesReally25 disease:

Major League Baseball is studying a series of initiatives, including
the fingerprinting of youths under the age of 16, as it attempts to
gain control of the age and identity problems it has encountered in
signing players in the Dominican Republic according to several people with knowledge of the situation.

Those same people said Major League Baseball also planned to establish
its own youth baseball leagues in the Dominican Republic to serve as an
alternative to the current unregulated system for young players that is
dominated by talent-finders known as buscones.

The fingerprinting seems . . . odd.  I mean, what good are fingerprints if you don’t have something to check them against?  The article says that baseball is “reviewing whether the fingerprinting of players, perhaps as young as 11 or 12, would be legal,” but it’s not like people down there haven’t been passing off teenagers as 12 year-olds for years.  The only way you could really have confidence in a fingerprinting program is if you had prints of every boy under the age of, hell, ten years old.  And once you start doing that, the whole international scouting business starts looking more like factory farming than it does talent development.

Color me similarly dubious about the MLB-run little leagues.  Yes, I’ll grant that the problem of buscones may very well be legitimate, but I can’t help but think that there’s an ulterior motive at work here: bolstering baseball’s plan to impose an international draft.  If such a thing comes to pass, there’s little incentive for individual teams to set up and operate training academies like they do now, and there will be a need for some other reliable talent-identification system like, say, an organized league.

This doesn’t make it a bad idea, but it does make the claim that the leagues’ purpose would be to protect the kids from buscone-exploitation something less than the full story.

White Sox won’t make bid for Bryce Harper

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The White Sox won’t make a bid for free agent outfielder Bryce Harper, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports. Believed to be the favorites to land shortstop Manny Machado in free agency, the White Sox watched him ink a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres. The club is apparently content with its roster otherwise.

Harper would certainly be an upgrade in the outfield, which currently features Adam Engel, Nicky Delmonico, and Jon Jay. It will soon feature prospects Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert.

Last season, Harper hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 hom eruns, 100 RBI, 103 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances. He led all of baseball, drawing 130 walks. Harper is also a six-time All-Star who won the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2015 NL Most Valuable Player Award.

The Phillies are still believed to be the favorites to sign Harper and the club is confident it will land him, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.