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Braves Fined $100,000 By MLB

The Atlanta Braves were fined $100,000 and banned from scouting and signing players in the Dominican Republic for six months because they signed an underage prospect.

Commissioner Bud Selig also fined Atlanta scouts Paul Snyder ($2,500) and Rene Francisco ($1,000) in his decision Wednesday.

Selig found the Braves signed shortstop Wilson Betemit on July 28, 1996, his 15th birthday. That is one year earlier than baseball rules allow.

Betemit hit .320 with 53 RBIs in 67 games with Danville (Va.) of the Appalachian Rookie League last season. He was not made a free agent in the ruling.

"We are trying to create a situation where (teams and players) abide by the rules," Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office, told USA Today, which first reported the story today.

Selig fined the Los Angeles Dodgers $50,000 in December for signing third baseman Adrian Beltre before he was 16. The Dodgers also were ordered to pay Beltre $48,500, banned from scouting or signing any amateur players who reside in the Dominican for one year, and ordered to close their Campo Las Palmas training camp for one year.

The penalties against the Dodgers have not been put in place because the players' association filed a grievance, attempting to gain free agency for Beltre. Arbitrator Shyam Das is to decide the case, but he will rule first on the union's attempt to overturn John Rocker's suspension.

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