The Game, Not the Name, Remains the Same

The name may have changed. But the player, and more importantly the person, remained the same. Roberto Solano showed up the Mets' prospect radar screen two years ago as a player that had a ton of potential. He had a "live" body, good power potential, great speed, and a cannon for an arm. The problem is that Roberto Solano was made up. The player that actually possessed these fine baseball attributes was Ambiorix Concepcion and now we'll find out the reason for the name change.

You see, Roberto Solano was always Ambiorix Concepcion. Concepcion was a hot-shot rising ballplayer in the Dominican Republic that obviously had a bright future ahead of him. His club manager at the time saw the promise Concepcion displayed and started trying to convince him to change his name, and more importantly his age, in order to beef up his asking price from Major League clubs. He insisted that he knew what he was talking about. Changing his name to Roberto Solano and decreasing his age by one year would bring in more money in his free-agent signing bonus. Concepcion was reluctant to say the least.

Not knowing anything about the business of baseball, Ambiorix went along with his manager's suggestion. And thus, Roberto Solano was "born"!

After signing a free agent deal with the Mets, Solano had a successful go of it in the Appalachian League with the Kingsport Mets. He caught many a scout's eye with flashes of his speed. He dazzled them with his incredible arm. But even more so, Solano was noticed primarily due to his amazing bat speed. Solano had tremendous power potential and immediately became one of the Mets' most intriguing outfield prospects in 2002 after hitting .276 with 4 home runs in 57 games with the K-Mets.

After bursting on to the Mets' prospect scene, Solano was contacted by his former manager. His former manager wanted money. He wanted money or else he would blow the proverbial whistle on Solano/Concepcion. Solano did not know what to do. He thought that if the truth came out that his career as a professional ballplayer in the United States would surely be over. And with the weight of this dilemma on his shoulders, Solano struggled emotionally and mentally in 2003 and his play suffered. In fact, the same player that dazzled scouts with his power potential could not muster a single home run in 45 games for Kingsport last season.

Finding himself listless in the field and lifeless in the batter's box, Solano decided to fess up. He decided to go to John Fantuzzi of the Mets and confess everything. And with his confession, Roberto Solano was no more. Solano, as he was introduced to Mets' fans back in 2002, took his birth name once again....Ambiorix Concepcion. Known by his teammates as "Amby", or "X", Concepcion has been able to revitalize his baseball career with the Cyclones in 2004. No longer concerned with his true identity on paper, Concepcion's true identity has been shown on the field this past season. The team leader in home runs (8) and stolen bases (28) this year, Concepcion is a fan favorite and is on the short list of good outfield prospects in the Mets' system.

This might have been the first year Mets' fans heard the name Ambiorix Concepcion, but it most certainly will not be the last.

Information used in this article was taken from an interview with Ambiorix Concepcion conducted by Andy Braunstein.

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