Report questions Nats prospect’s age

Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten vowed that the franchise would “get to the bottom” of the developments that apparently have left the team with a prospect it doesn’t really know.

A Web site reported Wednesday morning that Esmailyn Gonzalez, the highly touted Dominican shortstop prospect who was given a $1.4 million signing bonus by the Nationals when they signed him in 2006, is actually four years older than he told the team and has an entirely different name.

According to that SI.com report, Gonzalez (who the Nationals list as being 19 years old) is actually Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, and he’s 23.

After the story broke this morning, Kasten forbade anyone else in the organization from commenting on the situation. This included general manager Jim Bowden, who as of this afternoon had not returned a reporter’s phone call requesting comment. Bowden was believed to be in Arizona, where he’s handling the team’s arbitration cases.

But Kasten, who remains in Washington while the team is training in Florida, spoke to reporters there via teleconference.

“To say I’m disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how I feel. I’m angry. I’m very angry. We’ve been defrauded,” Kasten said. “And make no mistake, this wasn’t a college kid with a fake ID that came in and did this. This was a deliberate, premediated fraud with a lot more to this story, and we are going to get to the bottom of it. There were many, many people involved in this premeditated fraud.”

Citing the ongoing investigation, Kasten said he couldnt get into specifics, but he wouldnt rule out the possibility that any Nationals employees were involved in the scheme.

“I’m going to let all conclusions be reached,” he said. “I want it pursued to the very end. The chips will fall where they may. I just want to uncover everything I can possibly uncover.”

Gonzalez remains in the Dominican. Minor league position players are not due to report to camp in Viera, Fla., until March 13. Even so, Gonzalez could have difficulties leaving the Dominican and coming to the United States if there’s evidence his personal information has been falsified.

The revelation comes out of an FBI investigation that has been public for most of the past year regarding the skimming of signing bonuses given to Latin American prospects by executives and scouts from several major league clubs. Last July, the FBI interviewed Bowden with regards to this investigation. Bowden has denied any wrongdoing.

A league-wide investigation has been ongoing since Major League Baseball received a tip early last season that Dave Wilder, then the Chicago White Sox’ senior personnel director, was skimming money to Dominican players. Wilder, along with scouts Victor Mateo and Domingo Toribio, was fired by the White Sox last May.

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