Grabiel Hernandez Busted for Identity Fraud

St. Louis Cardinals Dominican shortstop is actually Ronny Gil, 2 ½ years older than originally claimed.

A highly-thought of shortstop in the St. Louis Cardinals Dominican Republic academy, Grabiel Hernandez, ran into some big trouble this spring as his career was supposed to be taking an upswing. As part of the process of the organization wanting to send him to the USA for extended spring training, a plum assignment for a teenager with just one year of professional experience, his employers learned Hernandez is not who he claimed to be.

During the application procedure for Hernandez to receive a visa to play in the States, an irregularity was discovered. The youngster was found to have falsified his age and identity. The shortstop's real name is Ronny Gil. He aged 2 1/2 years in the process, from October 1991 to March 1989.

The switch-hitter was originally signed as one of the crown jewels of the Cardinals 2008 July 2nd class, receiving a bonus reportedly less than $100,000.

The penalty handed down by MLB is to place Gil on their Disqualified List for a period of one year. Despite Gil having leapt from age 18 ½ to 21, the Cardinals have elected to keep him in their organization, rather than void his contract.

Though originally signed for his defense, Hernandez/Gil exceeded all expectations for offensive production in his first season of organized play. Even at the older age, the results were apparently good enough to explain why he remains a Cardinal.

Hernandez/Gil posted an impressive .308/.392/.448 in 250 at-bats with the Dominican Summer League Cardinals last season. He finished second among all Cardinals minor leaguers with ten triples and third in stolen bases with 26 (in 30 attempts). In the slash stats above, he was fifth in the system in on-base percentage, ninth in slugging and sixth in OPS (.840).

Hernandez was named to the 2009 Dominican Summer League All-Star Team and among his exploits last summer was hitting for the cycle. After the season, he was tabbed as The Cardinal Nation Dominican Summer League Player of the Year. Based on his success at what seemed to be such a youthful age, I placed him number 24 on my personal top 40 Cardinals prospect list over the winter.

Despite being on the Disqualified List for the 2010 season, Gil is still allowed to receive instruction and participate in training activities. In fact, he is currently participating in extended spring training camp. However, Gil is ineligible for organized league play until 2011.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Brian pens a column each Wednesday at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and selected TCN content appears at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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