MLB Suspends Top Latin American Prospects

The international signing period doesn't begin until July 2, but the news surrounding the signing period has already been eventful.

Major League Baseball has suspended two unsigned, high-profile Dominican prospects for misrepresenting their ages, with more cases still pending after their investigations came back irregular.

Lou Melendez, MLB's vice president of international baseball operations, confirmed the suspensions of Dominican outfielder Eladio Moronta and righthander Rafael DePaula, both of whom were believed to have been eligible to sign last year but were still unsigned. International sources say Moronta is a plus-plus runner with an above-average arm and power who could have commanded a seven-figure bonus.

DePaula, who has presented himself as being born April 1, 1992, has seen his fastball go from the mid- to high-80s last July to the low-90s and touching 94-95 mph this year, making him one of the most coveted players available since the end of last year's signing period.

Junior Monteliz, whose real name is apparently Eric Peguero, had his investigation come back irregular, though "the investigation hasn't been finalized in terms of being suspended," Melendez said. International sources say Monteliz, a plus-plus runner with athleticism, could have garnered a seven-figure bonus if he was 16.

Two more July 2 prospects—shortstop Paul Carlixte and outfielder Alfredo Ramos—have had their investigations come back irregular as well. International sources say Carlixte could have commanded a bonus in the high six-figures this July 2. Ramos has some power and a plus arm.

One player whose investigation Melendez said did come back OK is Dominican outfielder Wagner Mateo, a lefthanded hitter whose bonus seems certain to be in the seven-figure range, and possibly among the top three bonuses this summer.

MLB began implementing a new rule in May 2008 to suspend players for misrepresenting their ages or their identities for one year.

Baseball America will have more information on how MLB is preparing for July 2 and on some of the top available prospects in the coming days and in the weeks leading up to July 2.