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Big League Stew

Help three filmmakers document the rise of Minnesota Twins top prospect Miguel Sano

Big League Stew

Miguel Sano is the top prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization, a 19-year-old third baseman from the Dominican Republic, who Baseball America rates as the No. 9 overall prospect in the game.

He's also the lens through which three filmmakers have been examining the baseball pipeline in the Dominican Republic. Sano is one of the players in "Ballplayer: Pelotero," (out on DVD) the 2012 documentary that began following him at age 15. Now, the filmmakers behind "Pelotero" want to continue telling his story. Thus, Jon Paley, Ross Finkel and Trevor Martin began a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $25,000 to partially fund the sequel, "The Miguel Sano Story."

Here's their "please help us" video:

The good news is their Kickstarter is almost kicked and starter. As of this writing, it was less than $1,000 from being funded, with 20 days lefts to go. For those of you unfamiliar with the ways of Kickstarter, that's a quality showing. This tells us people are interested in Sano's story and they don't mind kicking in a few bucks to help it along.

To help baseball fans understand more about the film, the process to make it and Sano's story, we asked Paley a few questions. Here's what he had to say:

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Mike Oz: Why do you feel like this is a story that deserves another chapter?
Jon Paley: Toward the end of production on Ballplayer: Pelotero, it became clear that signing with the Twins was only the beginning of Miguel's story. Even at 16 Miguel's talents would make veteran scouts ramble off Hall-of-Fame comparisons. Before our eyes we watched an incredible transformation in the way Miguel and his family lived their everyday lives, all thanks to baseball. The path to the big leagues is a long one and we knew we had an opportunity to tell a once-in-a-lifetime story.

It's an ambitious goal, to try to document the entirety of a young athlete's career from anonymity to superstardom, but in December of 2009, we decided to go for it, returning to the DR to film Miguel flying to the US for the first time to attend Spring Training. While "Ballplayer: Pelotero" was revealing in its own way, the follow-up will bring to life the pressure, successes and missteps that come with the fast track to the bigs. Miguel has been flung into the strange and wonderful world of small-town America without speaking the language, or understanding the culture. He is thousands of miles away from his family, friends, and any life he has ever known. A swarm of suitors surround him trying to latch onto a piece of the future, and all the while he must focus on the simple things, like hitting a 90-mile-an-hour fastball with millions of rabid fans eagerly watching and criticizing his every move.

MO: People might see $25,000 and think that's a lot of money, but for filmmaking it's really not, right?
JP: Unfortunately for us, $25,000 is only a fraction of what it will cost to make this film. Filmmaking is far more expensive than you can ever imagine, and $25,000 will only get us through filming this coming season, and in a frugal fashion at that . But this is a crucial period in the production. It is nearly impossible to find money for films with a nebulous schedule and indeterminate end date like this one. We can't control when this story comes to an end, we just have to be there whether it is 2013, 2014, or 2015. This $25,000 will get us through this year to the point where we are close to enough to completion that we can find finishing funds from an investor or distributor.

MO: The Kickstarter response was been good so far. What does that tell you about peoples' interest in this project?
JP: We have been completely blown away by the early response on Kickstarter! We were confident that we could reach our goal, but we could have never imagined having almost completed that goal one week later. I think people have really gravitated towards Miguel's rags-to-riches story. We are so lucky to have an enthusiastic audience who saw the previous film and a fervent group of Twin's fans who just can't wait for 2014 that have helped to spark the fundraising efforts. We tried to offer rewards that would appeal to our audience. Miguel was generous enough to sign some balls and bats and we have an array of really cool rewards that we are still rolling out.

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MO: Have you noticed more interest after the World Baseball Classic results?
JP: There was definitely a heightened interest in all things Dominican baseball after the DR won the championship. We especially like the phrase Platano Power! It also really helped that Sano got called up to the Major League lineup against the Yankees last Thursday. It was unreal seeing him at bat with guys like Ichiro and Youkilis, not to mention Robinson Cano, who is from the same town as Miguel, playing in the field. He put the first two pitches he saw into play for two singles. He made it look easy up there. I think people were shocked at how big he has become since the skinny kid they had seen in "Ballplayer: Pelotero." There is a photo of him standing next to Cano that makes Cano look like a child.

RELATED: If you're interested in more about Sano, the first film or baseball in the Dominican Republic, read this 2012 column from Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan.

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