Miguel is a 17-year-old living in Santo Domingo. Like many of the young men living in this country, he aspires to play major league baseball in the United States.I first met Miguel at one of the Centro Olympíco baseball fields early last week. He goes to practice at 9 a.m. every day, except for Sunday. In the last year he has only taken one day, other than a Sunday, away from the baseball field. Last July, Miguel was signed to the Toronto Blue Jays. Come October 2014, he will leave all he has ever known to play in the minor leagues in Florida.Up to this point, this may be a story many people outside of the Dominican Republic are familiar with. Hard-working young guy, practices every day to play a sport professionally. A rags-to-riches story about a Dominican achieving his dream of playing baseball in the MLB. The general details are not all that unique.
But it’s not that simple.Miguel’s signing bonus with the Blue Jays is for $100,000, or about 425,000 Dominican pesos. Most people never see that much money come in at once in their lifetime. This October, Miguel will have access to all of it.
In my time here I’ve heard several first-hand accounts of players getting similarly sized signing bonuses and, believe it or not, spending all of it on cars, women, alcohol and the like.
Right now Miguel is receiving $350 every two weeks from the Blue Jays. Quite a bit more than he has ever had access to in the past. He says he’s nervous about not having any friends in the U.S. and not knowing how to cook for himself. He said that he’ll have to call his mother frequently to get cooking directions over the phone.