The video sensation of little 5-year-old Ariel Antigua has everyone stunned and amazed. This petite version of what every major league baseball team wants poses a question: How young is too young?
Antigua looks like any other 5-year-old boy from New Jersey. However, put him on a baseball field and he is no longer like any other boy his age. This kid can hit pitches that are going roughly 86 to 88 mph — and they are not just flimsy hits. These hits are strong. Any kid at that age would not even try to hit a moving pitch, let alone a pitch at that kind of speed. In addition, Antigua can bat well on both the left and right sides of the plate. To top all that, he can field the ball almost perfectly.
This kid clearly has great hand-eye coordination and endless potential, but does that mean his future should be decided for him? Should a 5-year-old have to decide now that he wants to be a professional baseball player in about two decades? Of course, he does not have to literally think about his future. But with all of the hype and attention, this kid is most likely going to continue this route. I mean, why stop doing something that you are great at? And, hopefully, he likes it too.
The larger picture here is whether Antigua is going to grow up normally. Since his personal instructor, Edwin Ortiz, created this video and posted it on the Internet for everyone to see, Antigua’s development as a baseball player will most likely be monitored. Scouts are going to want to see how much better he gets and, if he does continue to improve, when they can sign him. But what people forget is how much pressure that can be. I’m sure all of this attention is more than welcome to a 5-year-old kid. But in a couple of years, that attention will die down and the only thing left will be the pressure to show improvement in order to keep people interested. This level of pressure for a 5-year-old is unbearable. Even professional athletes today who get paid to perform have issues with pressure from their teams, organizations and fans. Arguably, it is this pressure of satisfying everyone else that leads to the desire to use performance-enhancing drugs that has struck even the best players in the league.
However, pressure is not the only issue here. The idea of morality is apparent, too. In regard to child stars like Antigua, no one really knows what the appropriate age is for a child to be smothered with this kind of attention. Should Ortiz have waited until Antigua was ready to be exposed as a prodigy? When is a young boy truly mature enough to make decisions on his own? By posting this video, not only did Ortiz indirectly force Antigua into a career that he may or may not want, he also used the kid’s skills to advertise his own facility. Through the video, Ortiz was able to show how his own ability as a trainer can help your child be the next Alex Rodriguez. It would be nice to hope that Ortiz has Antigua’s best interest at heart, but a kid with this much potential can mean a lot of money.
Regardless, Antigua’s future is already laid out for him. All we can do now is wish him luck and hope his status as a child prodigy fulfills itself in the future. But most importantly, above all of this hype, let’s hope he continues to enjoy playing baseball at whatever age.