Juan Carlos Oviedo
Note: the page Juan Oviedo redirects here; for the player of that name who played with the Nicaraguan national team, click here
Juan Carlos Oviedo
played as Leo Nunez 2005-2011
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 160 lb.
Juan Carlos Oviedo is a relief pitcher who made national headlines in late 2011 when it was revealed he had played his entire career using an assumed identity, that of Leo Nunez.
Nunez was originally signed by scout Jose Luna for the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent in February 2000. He made his pro debut with the DSL Pirates that summer. Nunez was traded to the Kansas City Royals in return for veteran catcher Benito Santiago on December 16, 2004. He made his major league debut with the Royals in 2005 and played for them until he was traded to the Florida Marlins on October 30, 2008 in return for slugging first baseman Mike Jacobs.
He had a tough first season in the majors in 2005, putting up an ERA of 7.55 in 41 appearances, all of them in relief. He spent time in the minor leagues during each of his first four seasons in the majors, including a stint in A-ball in 2005 after first being acquired by Kansas City. He played at two different levels each year, and as a result never put up eye-popping numbers, but was a solid reliever in AA and AAA in 2006 (a 2.90 ERA in 38 games) then was excellent in a brief stint as a starter to begin 2007 (2-2, 1.85 in 11 games between AA Wichita and AAA Omaha).He only pitched seven games in the majors in 2006, then made six starts in 2007 as he finished the season on the Royals' roster. He put up a decent 3.92 ERA that season, obscured by a 2-4 record. He allowed 3 hits and 2 runs in one inning for the Aguilas Cibaeñas in the 2008 Caribbean Series, then became a key member of Kansas City's bullpen in 2008, going 4-1, 2.98 in 45 games as a set-up man for closer Joakim Soria. He had again played in both AA and AAA in early 2008 before claiming a permanent spot in the Royals' bullpen.
In 2009, following his trade to Florida, he was installed as the Marlins' closer, making 75 appearances and saving 26 games with an ERA of 4.06. He returned to the role in 2010, but performed much better: he was 4-3, 3.46 with 30 saves in 68 games, striking out a career-high 71 batters in 65 innings.
On September 21, 2011, he was placed on the restricted list by the Marlins, who announced he would not play again that season. He was 1-4, 4.06, with 36 saves at the time. It was revealed a day later that he had been playing under an assumed identity since being originally signed by the Pirates in 2000, that his real name was Juan Carlos Oviedo and that he was 18 months older than his listed birthdate of August 14, 1983. He immediately returned to the Dominican Republic to sort out the resulting issues with U.S. immigration authorities. He admitted to using false documents and a fake ID in order to sign his first contract, and the intermediary who obtained the false papers for him was arrested. On November 4th, that intermediary was identified as Kleiber Miguel Bruno Gonzalez, who had ironically previously been hired by Major League Baseball as an investigator in alleged fraud cases in the island country. Bruno was accused of accepting $25,000 to falsify Oviedo's documents back in 2000; also charged was Hector Pena Diaz, the man who had provided the false documents. In December, Oviedo issued an apology to fans, but also to the Marlins and to U.S. and Dominican Republic authorities, explaining that the name change was a mistake he had made as a very young man. Officials in the D.R. said he would not be prosecuted as he was fully cooperating with a larger investigation into false documents. He was still facing problems though, since U.S. authorities had rejected his application for a new visa. He also needed to obtain a certification from MLB that he would be allowed to play before a new request for a visa could be considered.
When training camp opened in 2012, Oviedo was stuck at home, still facing a ban on traveling out of the country until an agreement between U.S. and Dominican authorities. Meanwhile, the Marlins had signed Heath Bell to a large contract to be their new closer, and were expected to trade Nunez when and if he received the authorization to return to the United States. In early April, it was announced that both Oviedo and countryman Fausto Carmona, also nabbed for identity fraud during the off-season, would serve eight-week suspensions imposed by MLB before being allowed to play again. On May 23rd, it was announced that he had received a pardon from the U.S. State Department, granting him eligibility to apply for a visa, which he obtained shortly thereafter. He then received the expected eight-week suspension, setting his return to the playing field for July 23rd.
- 30 Saves Seasons: 2 (2010 & 2011)