Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Miguel Angel Sano Successfully Receives a Visa Despite Fraud Concerns

Sports Illustrated reports that heralded Dominican shortstop Miguel Angel Sano has successfully received a visa to play for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins signed Sano to a club-record $3.15 million signing bonus, and his employment was contingent on his successful acquisition of a visa. Although unconfirmed in the article, Sano was almost certainly issued a visa in the P-1 category.

Normally the mere issuance of a P-1 visa does not make news, but it did in this case for two reasons. First, the issuance of a visa turned out to be a potentially expensive condition precedent to Sano's contract. Secondly, the issuance of the visa was in doubt due to commonplace fraud issues among prospective Dominican baseball players.

The Dominican Republic, particularly Sano's hometown in San Pedro de Macoris, has been the epicenter for age and identity fraud. Some players and their handlers cut years off their age in order to increase their market value.
Sano is not immune from suspicion regarding age and identity fraud. His 6'3, 190 pound frame and his advanced skills have called into question whether he is really 16 years old, as is his claim. Despite such concerns, Sano's visa was approved.

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