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Revisiting the death of a Nationals prospect two years later

Mar 4, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT

Yewri Guillen AP

Almost two years have passed since 18-year-old Nationals prospect Yewri Guillen died from a brain infection while playing and living at the team’s baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.

Ian Gordon of Mother Jones wrote a lengthy article about Guillen’s life and his death, and how it all relates to the process of MLB teams signing teenagers from foreign countries.

A lot of it is really sad stuff, including the fact that Guillen was refused treatment at a private hospital a week before his death when his family couldn’t afford the admission fee.

And then there’s this, regarding MLB’s insistence that proper health protocols were followed:

There wasn’t a certified athletic trainer, let alone a doctor, to evaluate Guillén at the Nationals’ academy, a spartan training camp with cinder-block dorms. No one from the team accompanied him to Santo Domingo or intervened when he couldn’t get into the Clínica Abreu. (The club didn’t cover the costs of his treatment until after he was admitted to the Cuban-Dominican clinic.) And following Guillén’s death, the club required his parents to sign a release before handing over his signing bonus and life insurance money—a document also stating that they would never sue the team or its employees.

Gordon’s article goes on to detail some of the living conditions teenage prospects like Guillen deal with and how, for the most part, the issues are ignored by MLB and mainstream media. I’m sure MLB’s side of the story is much different, of course, but I definitely think the article is worth reading for a look inside a mostly uncovered part of the baseball world.

  1. indaburg - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    It’s the side dark side of Dominican baseball, the side my people don’t like to talk about, how these boys are exploited. Willingly exploited, but when you live on a poor island with few options, what choice do you really have? A lot of them don’t want reform either because they’re afraid the lifeline to the US will be cut, and MLB will search elsewhere for cheap talent.

    What happened to Yewri was an easily avoided tragedy. Hopefully, he won’t have died in vain.

    • jarathen - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      It really is. I think of a guy like Nick Adenhart, who died because a chronic drunk ran a light, and that’s a shame. A terrible, terrible shame. But this poor kid died because people who could take action did not. Baseball should treat these people as just that – people – and not chattel. Lord knows they have the money.

  2. baseballer28 - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    I knew I hated this organization for a reason…pieces of shit counldn’t even help one of their own players. I wonder what they would have done if that was Bryce Harper.

    • jwbiii - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      Two points: The Nationals committed $10M to Bryce Harper. Yewri Guillen probably signed for about $5k, which probably doubled his family’s income for the year. Of course they would be treated differently. Second, do you think that the Nationals run their Dominican academy in a worse way than any other team does?

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        What do you mean “of course they would be treated differently”?

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      Certainly the Nationals should take a long look at how they handled this, and yes, it raises many many questions for them. And a lot of comparisons Mother Jones made are just realities of supply and demand (of course a 21 year old will sign for more then a 16 year old, they are more proven).

      That said MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL needs to take a long look at theo they handle their carribean operations, because this could have happened to any team. This is just sad, very, very sad. Tragic, and completely avoidable. This kid was treated like a peice of produce

  3. officialgame - Mar 4, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    Yes I believe the Nationals run their so called Academy worse then others. I know for a fact the Dodgers and Phillies have professional high end facilities.

  4. jarathen - Mar 5, 2013 at 6:17 AM

    I have a co-worker who has family involved in baseball facilities in Venezuela and he made it sound like it’s a far better life than most of them would have otherwise. It was kind of sobering to see it put out there so matter-of-factly.

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