DePaula Admits New Age, Identity

Top Dominican righthander claims to be one year older





The story of one of the top unsigned pitching prospects in the Dominican Republic for the last two years has taken another turn.

Righthander Rafael DePaula has admitted to using a false name and lying about his age by one year, according to sources familiar with the case and confirmed by Sandy Alderson, Major League Baseball's consultant in charge of reforming the league's Dominican operations.

DePaula had presented himself as Rafael DePaula Figueroa with an April 1, 1992 date of birth; he is now 19-year-old Jose Rafael DePaula born March 24, 1991. Alderson declined to comment on DePaula's current eligibility to sign, noting that the league is currently reviewing the facts of his case.

Since DePaula was not among the 40 Dominican players this year who were required to register with MLB and who were investigated on a pre-contract basis, he would still have to pass another MLB investigation into his new age and identity if he does become eligible to sign.

It is just the latest twist for DePaula, who has been one of the top prospects in the Dominican Republic since he became eligible to sign in 2008, when he had been presenting himself as a 16-year-old. DePaula attracted plenty of attention with a fastball that touched the mid-90s, an advanced curveball and solid mechanics, but many scouts did not believe that DePaula was using his real age.

DePaula remained unsigned into 2009, when MLB finally suspended him for one year for misrepresenting his age. DePaula's suspension ended this year on Jan. 7, but until now he had maintained the same age and identity.

While most 19-year-olds who sign out of the Dominican Republic receive token signing bonuses, DePaula is expected to command considerable money. The Yankees, Mariners, Red Sox, Rangers and Athletics are among the teams believed to have shown strong interest in DePaula.