Does MLB discriminate against Haitians?

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Nick Collias, who covers the Spanish language media for MLB Trade Rumors sent me a story the other day that I haven’t seen anyone pick up anywhere.  You can read it in Spanish here.  I couldn’t, so Nick was nice enough to translate it for me.

The gist: MLB has a policy
of not allowing Haitian players to attend team academies in the
Dominican Republic–and, hence, to not get anywhere near the major
league prospect system. The reason is ostensibly that the players
aren’t able to have their backgrounds or papers verified easily, what
with Haiti being Haiti and all. But a couple of coaches quoted in the article think it’s unfair and discriminatory, because many Venezuelan
and Cuban players in the same situation don’t get nearly the same level
of scrutiny.  Some translated text:

Andres “Chaca” Martinez, Sixto de la Cruz, and Juan Pena
Reynoso, three coaches in the Juan Pablo Darte Olympic Center, said recently
they were obliged to send away several promising Haitian prospects in excellent
condition because no one wanted to evaluate them.

“Last week I had to send away four, due to that when I
wanted to introduce them to several scouts, they refused to see them, and when
asked for a reason they told me that unfortunately, they were not allowed to
see Dominican-Haitian players,” revealed Martinez. De La Cruz said he had to
dismiss two Haitian pitchers who threw 90 to 91 mph for the same reason.

“They are guys with good physiques, holding passports and
Haitian birth certificates, but the scouts told me they don’t see them because
the investigators from the MLB office here will not allow any Haitian players
through,” said De La Cruz. He added, “It is unfair that the young men of that
neighboring country are denied the opportunity given to Cubans and Venezuelans,
who are signed without investigation.”

Reynoso considers the treatment of the Haitians
discriminatory and unjust, saying they are human beings worthy of better
treatment.

I don’t know nearly enough about identity documentation issues in Haiti vs. the Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela vs. Cuba to know if these coaches’ complaints are legitimate or not. If all things are equal, and if baseball is treating Haitian prospects — such as they are — differently, that’s a problem.  If, however, there is something inherently less-trustworthy about Haitian documents than there is about, say, Cuban documents, such differences would be understandable.

I’ll offer this much though: between the lack of diplomatic ties with Cuba and the Haitain earthquake, one would suspect that checking back with the issuer of the documents would be equally impossible, so there’s not a lot of cause, I wouldn’t think, for distinguishing between Cuban and Haitian documents.

Either way, this is a story that may be worth looking into more deeply.

Matt Adams placed on DL with fractured left index finger

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The Nationals made a handful of roster decisions on Tuesday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Pitcher Wander Suero was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse and 1B/OF Matt Adams was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a fractured left index finger. With the two open roster spots, the Nationals recalled pitcher Jefry Rodriguez from Syracuse to start against the Orioles and added recently-acquired reliever Kelvin Herrera to the roster.

Adams, 29, was hit on the hand attempting to lay down a bunt on Friday. He has been quite productive for the Nationals this year, batting .275/.351/.575 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI in 171 plate appearances.

Adams was splitting time at first base with Mark Reynolds. Daniel Murphy drew starts at first base over the weekend, so it could be a Reynolds/Murphy split there now with Wilmer Difo remaining at second base.

In his major league debut on June 3, the 24-year-old Rodriguez pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Jeremy Hellickson, who lasted just one-third of an inning. Tuesday’s start will be his first at the big league level. At Double-A Harrisburg this season, Rodriguez posted a 3.31 ERA with a 72/28 K/BB ratio in 68 innings.