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"The next sure thing": Meet Miguel Angel Sano, a 15-year-old shortstop with big league dreams and big league talent.
SAN PEDRO DE MACORIS, Dominican Republic — Today is moving day for Miguel Angel Sano, 15, and it’s the first of what will undoubtedly be many payoffs for the family of one of the most talked-about prospects for Major League Baseball coming out of the Dominican Republic this year.
Moving is a haphazard affair. Family members weave through a labyrinth of overflowing boxes, upturned mattresses and tied-up chickens to a moving truck parked outside the two-bedroom cinder block house they are leaving behind.
Sano, meanwhile, is cradling his most valuable assets: a pair of cleats, three bats and a glove.
“Billy,” Sano calls to his younger brother as he walks back to the house. “Watch my glove and stuff. If it gets stolen, [my trainer] he will kill me." His brother watches vigilantly over these tools of the baseball trade.
The equipment and the talents of Miguel Angel — a unique gift of fast hands for fielding and a natural timing to his swing — have allowed the family to move out of the barrio in which they were living to a more comfortable home closer to the fields where Sano is vying for a big break into the big leagues.
Miguel Angel’s story is the second installment in a special report for GlobalPost of video portraits and written reports titled “Dominican dreams: El barrio to the big leagues." (Read the first part, "The Dominican Republic's baseball magic," here.)
The family’s new home is a bright and airy two-story house rented in anticipation of the 6’3” shortstop’s July 2 signing bonus — rumored to be as much as $3 million.
Such seven-figure sums paid to elite players have inflated the average value of signing bonuses in the Dominican Republic to $108,000 as of 2008. Most prospects, if they get signed at all, will receive far less.