Texas Rangers feel confident prospect Jairo Beras is 17

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The case of Jairo Beras and his $4.5 million contract with the Texas Rangers is in the hands of Major League Baseball, which is investigating the disputed age of the Dominican prospect and looking to see whether all 30 teams had an equal opportunity to sign him.

The Rangers signed the outfielder in February, claiming that Beras is 17 years old and eligible to sign. Several teams, though, were under the impression that Beras was only 16 and not eligible to sign until July.

MLB gave the Rangers 20 days to submit the evidence they used to prove Beras' age. The window closed Monday.

Richardson resident Harold Herdocia knows the truth. He is Beras' father, and though he has never met his son, he has provided documents to the Rangers and submitted to a DNA test.

Herdocia, a native of Nicaragua who has been living in Texas since 2001, said there is no doubt that Beras is 17 and that the contract he signed with the Rangers shouldn't be voided.

"I'm just doing my job," Herdocia said. "I'm trying to help Jairo and get his contract taken care of. That's all I can do."

Herdocia said that he was a member of the Angels organization in March 1994 and was sent to the Dominican Republic to be converted from an outfielder/first baseman to pitcher.

He met Beras' mother, Sandra, and learned two years later that he had fathered a son. He was told that Beras' birthday is Dec. 25, but there was a birth certificate that showed 1994 as the birth year and another with 1995.

The 1995 certificate has recently been thrown out by Dominican courts, he said.

Herdocia also has a passport showing that he was in the Dominican in March 1994.

"I was in March in the Dominican with her," said Herdocia, who gave a hair sample during a DNA test a few weeks ago in Miami. "From March to December is nine months."

Much of the confusion stems from Beras playing in a showcase for 16-year-olds last month in the Dominican with the errant birth certificate serving as documentation for his age.

MLB has multiple options depending on the results of its investigation.

The Rangers' contract with Beras could be voided, he could be suspended until the international signing period begins July 2, or the deal could be upheld.

If Beras can't sign until July, it would be for significantly less money because of the guidelines for international free agents in the new collective bargaining agreement.

Herdocia doesn't think his son should be penalized, because he did nothing wrong. He was told incorrectly as a boy that he was a year younger than he actually is.

"It's not Jairo's fault," Herdocia said. "His mama got a little confused. It's absolutely not his fault."

Herdocia was first contacted by Beras about three months ago. They speak regularly -- talking as recently as Thursday -- and they are both hopeful that a relationship can be built.

Herdocia knew he had a son, but he didn't know until the past few months that he was a talented baseball player.

Herdocia also understands that some people might be cynical about the case in numerous ways -- that he's chasing his son's potential windfall or that the Rangers have had him tucked away in nearby Richardson.

"People can say anything they want," said Herdocia, who has owned Harold's Moving and Delivery since 2009. "He wants to see me, and me, too. He's my son. We're going to have to start all over with the relationship. It's a little strange. He grew up with his mom by himself.

"Everybody called me from Nicaragua about Jairo. I knew I had a son, but I just found out that he's a baseball player and that he was about to become a professional. He was in the newspaper there."

One newspaper article could help fuel the Rangers' case that other teams were also aware of Beras' age. A Nov. 10, 2011, story in La Prensa, the main newspaper in Nicaragua, says that Beras is 17.

The author, Edgar Rodriguez, is a scout for the New York Yankees.

"We did a lot of work, based on which we're confident the player is eligible to sign," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "MLB has an open investigation into his age and the situation. We're cooperating with that and awaiting their determination."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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