Esmailyn Gonzalez isn't Esmailyn Gonzalez

A funny thing happened to Esmailyn Gonzalez overnight; he aged four years. Now, the former prospect isn't much of a prospect and who knows what happened to the $1.4 million signing bonus that he was given.

This is the type of story that used to be common place. A player from Latin America using someone else's name and birth certificate to appear to be more of a prospect than they really are. Since 9/11 though, closer scrutiny of paperwork and player's life stories has been able to stop most of the deception.

It didn't stop Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, who is 23. Haven't heard of him. How about Esmailyn Gonzalez, who is 19? Gonzalez was one of the up and coming prospects in the Nationals organization, who was nicknamed "smiley" because of his approach to the game and upbeat attitude. It's now ironic that most people referred to him as 'mature for his age', considering he really was old for his age.

Overnight, Gonzalez went from being a top ten prospect in the Nationals organization to now being old for what he has accomplished. Having spent two seasons in the Gulf Coast League is acceptable if you're 19, especially considering that in 2008, Gonzalez hit .343 for the GCL Nationals. It was thought that he might move all the way up to Low-A ball for the 2009 season. Being 23 and having played two seasons in the GCL, even though you did hit .343 last season, puts you well behind the curve.

The issue runs much deeper than it may appear, since Gonzalez was the first of what the Lerner family, owners of the Nationals, claimed would be their foray into international markets. They outbid other teams to get him and he was the poster child for a new approach to building the Nationals farm system that had been widely ignored under the ownership of Major League Baseball. They paid this guy $1.4 million because of who they thought that he was.

In the past, baseball just shook their heads when things like this happened. They chalked it up to a bad experience, tried to recoup some money - usually unsuccessfully - and moved on. That should end. In the real world, what Lugo did is fraud and the Nationals and Major League Baseball should look into what charges might be able to be brought. It's worth noting that the Nationals paid twice the going rate for Gonzalez/Lugo when they signed him, with the next best offer coming from the Texas Rangers at $700-thousand. It's also worth noting that there were two different agents working with teams. Rob Plummer acted as Gonzalez/Lugo's agent with every team except the Nationals. There, Basilio Vizcaino negotiated with Jose Rijo, a special assistant to GM Jim Bowden and childhood friend of Rijo.

This connects perfectly - although no official charges have been brought - to the on-going FBI investigation into alleged skimming of bonus money being given awarded to Latin American players, but being diverted to team officials and players representatives.

This could be the smoking gun that the investigation was looking for and will likely be a story worth following.

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