The judges have ruled on the fate of Dominican prospect Jairo Beras, and the scorecards showed a split-decision victory Thursday for the Texas Rangers.
Major League Baseball approved the $4.5 million contract the Rangers and Beras agreed to in late February, but the outfielder with the disputed age was suspended until next July.
The penalty comes after investigators determined that Beras registered as an MLB prospect as a 16-year-old, leading teams to believe that he wasn't eligible until the international signing period opened July 2.
The Rangers, though, uncovered evidence that proved Beras was 17, and MLB determined that the club acted in good faith when they signed the player Feb. 29.
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General manager Jon Daniels was pleased with the outcome, which might delay Beras' development some but should clear the club of any wrongdoing.
"We are pleased with the outcome of this process," Daniels said. "The outcome points out a few things, notably that, as we've felt all along, the contract was signed within the rules with the correct date and identity. Not only did the Rangers do no wrong, it recognizes the work our guys put in there."
Beras will be banned from joining a team in the Rangers' system until July 1, 2013, but he will be allowed to participate without pay in workouts as well as attend spring training next year.
He has been active at the Rangers' Dominican academy, wearing a Josh Hamilton No. 32 jersey, and occasionally serving as a first-base coach during games.
Daniels said that the Rangers' development staff will have to get creative to help further Beras' development without the benefit of playing on a team in games that count.
Acquiring the 6-foot-5, 195-pound Beras, a right-handed thrower and hitter, was worth the hand-wringing and the long wait for a decision.
"It's a classic corner-outfield/right-field profile with raw power, athleticism, a plus-arm and a feel of how to hit," Daniels said. "Our guys down there who have spent time around him speak very highly of his competitiveness and work ethic as well."
The Rangers, said Daniels, initially believed Beras to have a 1995 birth date after receiving the list of prospects from MLB over the winter. As they looked into Beras, though, they found his father and were given evidence to believe Beras was born Christmas Day in 1994, not 1995.
Harold Herdocia, a former baseball player in Nicaragua now living in Richardson, provided a passport that showed he was in the Dominican Republic in March 1994. That's when he met Beras' mother and had a relationship that produced a son.
The father submitted to a DNA test that proved Beras was his son.
"I think there were other clubs that did do some of the same work and were thinking along the same lines," Daniels said. "We knew we had to be thorough and buttoned up. Our guys went the extra mile and asked the questions that had to be asked."
Neftali Feliz (54 pitches) and Koji Uehara (28) threw live batting practice at Rangers Ballpark before heading out for rehab assignments at Triple A Round Rock. Feliz will start Sunday, throwing two innings, and Uehara will work an inning Saturday. Alexi Ogando worked an inning Thursday and is scheduled to pitch again Saturday.
Justin Grimm, who won his major league debut June 16 and was demoted to Double A Frisco last week, was promoted to Round Rock and will start there Saturday.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760