No, they aren’t those two Cuban players, but today the Chicago Cubs signed two Cuban prospects, outfielder Yasiel Balaguert and righthander Carlos Martinez.

Baseball America describes the soon-to-be 19-year-old Balaguert as a “thick-bodied” center fielder with “modest tools,” who “shows occasional average power with a quick bat and good extension.”

But BA adds that “several scouts have said he’ll have to continue to make adjustments to get to his power in games because of a long, uppercut swing from the right side and an aggressive, pull-oriented approach that leaves him susceptible to secondary stuff.”

From some quick research, it looks like Balaguert (who was previously identified as “Balaguer”) was a hot name when he defected around this time last year, and actually worked out for the Cubs in January. Why it took so long to sign, I can’t say.

Martinez, 20, is a huge kid – 6’4″, 215 lbs – who has pitched in relief at the highest level in Cuba, but with limited success. He’s described as having a decent fastball that sits in the low 90s, and a curveball and change up that both need work.

There is more on each in the Baseball America article, including some on Balaguert’s time in the World Junior National Tournament in 2010 playing alongside Jorge Soler and against future 2011 first-round picks Bubba Starling, Francisco Lindor and Blake Swihart.

The Cubs’ brass, you’ll recall, spent considerable time earlier in the offseason in the Carribean scouting Cubans Yoenis Cespedes and Soler, along with other (at the time) unnamed prospects.

  • Mick

    By the sounds of these prospects, who needs Soler and Cespedes!?!

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    I’m just going to go ahead and ask, and I’m hoping this isn’t an insensitive question:

    Why do Cuban players’ names frequently “change” after defecting? Is it a step in the process or something? It seems to be a very regular thing.

    • Matt

      I actually wondered the same thing. Could this actually help us in getting the big dogs?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I’m not really sure I see it as related. Soler and Cespedes are likely to take the largest offer – which, they probably should.

        • Matt

          Understandable there. I love Cespedes’ game, but I think Soler intrigues me more as a prospect with they ability to grow with the group of guys we are projecting to have at the bigs by ’14 or ’15.

    • Andy

      Another oddity is that a large number of Cuban names begin with “Y”.

    • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

      To throw off the Cuban authorities.

  • Rick Vaughn

    It’s hard trying to find info on Carlos Martinez. It’s like trying to find a John Smith here.

  • Cedlandrum

    I don’t know exactly, but many times in the “Latin” cultures they have more then one last name. So it isn’t as much of a change as it is to use the formal last name.

    I have no idea if that is the case here.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Maybe. But I’m thinking about Kendry Morales, who wound up Kendrys Morales. Yoennis Cespedes who wound up Yoenis Cespedes. Cabeza and Silva both had differing spellings in first names depending on what source you looked at. It can’t just be a coincidence.

      • Roger Dorn’s Wife

        My neighbors a Cuba and changed his name to dirty sanchez..

        • Eric

          Very nice, you win an eternity alone.  :)

      • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

        It is possible that some of these kids don’t know how to spell their own name (obviously it probably isn’t all of them) and it could be difficult to translate properly.

        • DublinCub

          Cuba has the second highest literacy rate in the world, so they’re probably more likely to be able to spell their name than young prospects from all over the world. As an Irish guy, seeing the Irish name Seán spelt “Chone” was a bit of a shock to the system!

          • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

            Not sure why they don’t just report a 100% literacy rate.

            In Soviet Cuba, you don’t read the words, the words read you…

          • MoneyBoy

            Dublin … well done.

            “According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of 2007-08 three countries have a literacy rate of 99.8%, Cuba, Estonia, and Poland.”

  • Rick Vaughn

    Minor league baseball will be fun to keep tabs on this year. I’m more excited about the lower level squads than I am about the big club.

  • Roger Dorn’s Wife

    What up Rick?

    • Rick Vaughn

      I didn’t know who she was… I swear!

      • cls


      • Dorn

        Quit banging my wife Slick..

        • ferrets_bueller


      • bluekoolaidaholic

        That’s ok, you paid for it with a punch in the mouth.
        Looked like maybe it was worth it though.

  • Derek

    I got a question for everyone are Cuban baseball players really that good or is it the fact that we cant just go sign them while they are in cuba that makes us want them even more.

    • Rick Vaughn

      Two words: Jose Canseco.

      • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

        canseco got knocked the f–k out by danny partridge on celeb boxing

  • pfk


  • BD

    I like it- never hurts to throw a couple more darts, and hope one sticks.

  • rocky8263

    Cuban surnames are patterned after the Spanish form and contain both the father’s surname and the mother’s surname in that order, sometimes separated by the word “y” (“and”). This is extremely valuable for genealogical research, since by knowing the full surname, you automatically get the surnames of both parents.

    • http://Ehanauer.com Clark Addison

      There are lots of Russian first names in Cuba as well.

  • MightyBear

    Another indication of the “Plan”. For those of you wondering were the money that was coming off the books is going. Here’s your answer.

  • Brian Peters

    Leaving off/adding letters to names occurs in other languages too. I know I’ll will garner a few giggles from the Peanut gallery, but when my great great-grandfather, Andreas (Andrew) Peter left Germany and arrived in America, he added an ‘s’ to our surname.

  • scorecard paul

    way off topic, but this is fun….
    in order to find your stage name when you become a porn star…..

    You take as a first name the name of your childhood pet, Your last name is the street you grew up on. This little game was played at a new years eve party I was at last year, and it was a lot of fun.
    mine was Walter Monroe. not as good as lots of others, but not terrible either.
    try it, it can produce some pretty cool names.

    • Hrubes20

      I’ve done this as well. Mine is pretty good: Spike Royal

    • CubFan Paul

      Lucas Mansfield.

    • hcs

      Lady Golf. Apparently I would do lesbian porn.

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      Topper Pine

    • MightyBear

      Tippy Otter Creek

    • ferrets_bueller

      considering my street is 177th, it doesnt really work for me lmao.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Lets just sign every single Cuban who has/will defect before next season when the new rules take place.  Gotta be some gems hidden in there somewhere…

  • die hard

    Cuba has the best health care system in the world….thats why their players are coveted as they are in great shape. Sounds like Theo is stocking cupboard for when Bosox and San Diego pay a visit. Or Theo is a Seinfeld fan as he is hoarding Cubans like Kramer did for rolling the foodstuffs.

    • CubFan Paul

      ‘Cuba has the best health care system in the world’

      wtf?! thats about ass backwards as it gets ..the Country you live in, America has The best health care system in the world hands down (because the research & development is done here)

  • al

    Cubfan Paul:

    The World Health Organization’s ranking
    of the world’s health systems disagrees with you:

    1 France
    2 Italy
    3 San Marino
    4 Andorra
    5 Malta
    6 Singapore
    7 Spain
    8 Oman
    9 Austria
    10 Japan
    11 Norway
    12 Portugal
    13 Monaco
    14 Greece
    15 Iceland
    16 Luxembourg
    17 Netherlands
    18 United Kingdom
    19 Ireland
    20 Switzerland
    21 Belgium
    22 Colombia
    23 Sweden
    24 Cyprus
    25 Germany
    26 Saudi Arabia
    27 United Arab Emirates
    28 Israel
    29 Morocco
    30 Canada
    31 Finland
    32 Australia
    33 Chile
    34 Denmark
    35 Dominica
    36 Costa Rica
    37 United States of America

    • CubFan Paul

      then we disagree on what the “worlds best health care” means. whateves

  • die hard

    To: Cub_an Paul…Id expect more from someone with your handle that cleverly disguises your leanings. Do your research and development to find out that notwithstanding Cuba’s other failings, health care is not one of them. Compare infant mortality rates per 100K …. United States-6.2 but who is lower…hint ——-
    Cuba-5.8….Cuba has better preventative care and primary care…they devote a much greater percentage of resources than US to caring for children birth to age 18….hence their baseball players are in better shape than America’s….

    Recall the Elian Gonzalez case? Just turned 18..Heres recent article….enuf said:

    “Nearly twelve years have passed since he was pulled from a closet by a masked machine gun wielding US agent.
    Now Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy who survived a perilous raft journey that killed his mother and became a symbol of troubled relations between the United States and Cuba, is an adult.
    Gonzalez currently studies at a military academy on the island and took part in an 18th birthday celebration Tuesday in his native city of Cardenas alongside his father, according to images broadcast on the nightly news.
    Gonzalez was shy of his sixth birthday on Thanksgiving Day 1999 when a fisherman found him off the coast of Florida, clinging to an inner tube after his mother and others fleeing Cuba drowned trying to reach American soil.”

    • Rick Vaughn

      Is that really die hard?

      I don’t know what the Elian Gonzalez stuff had to do with anything. Or how much of a direct effect Cuba’s health care system has on MLB interest in their players. But everything before “hence” in your first paragraph was good stuff.

      • Brian Myers

        One thing that should be noted, that’s looking at it in its entirety. The US actually has an elite level of health care, the problem is that its about being able to afford it.

        That being stated, the reason Cuba has so much success in producing ball players is that their kids live and breathe the game. The practice, work their bodies, give it everything thing they have because they love the game… and it gives them a chance to give themselves a better life. You don’t see that dedication (per individual) in the US, particularly when athletes that might do that have so many other sporting opportunities and/or can play sports that don’t require a ball field to practice in.

        • BetterNews

          Brian–Now your gettting into “semantics”. If people can’t afford insurance, how does the US rank as elite? You’re making no sense.

          • Brian Myers

            Since 85% of the US population does have health insurance, I’d suggest semantics or not the US has the ABILITY for as high of a standard of care as anyone. It is elite in its ability, not in its affordability or in having this elite level in poorer communities (due to a lack of funds in many cases).

            But I won’t debate that in a baseball forum. :-)  (plus, your point is well taken).




          • BetterNews

            All right, I’ll back off too.

      • die hard

        yes I am the only legit DH…The Gonzalez case is an example of how much better he was raised as compared to here where he likely would have been an overweight undernourished hs dropout video game fanatic or gang banger in and out of jail and on the way to prison for many reasons including he would have been without health care here unless he was adopted by a family with the wherewithal to afford exorbitant insurance rates.

      • BetterNews

        Yep, it’s him. Good to have you back , my man.

  • R.I.P. Santo


  • imwhitti

    For a minute there, I thought this was a site for debating Obamacare and foreign policy regarding Cuba. Can’t we just discuss baseball??

    • die hard

      this is baseball related and not a tangent because the question is why are all the teams so interested in signing a Cuban ballplayer when one would think that the opposite would be true given their country’s other ills. Couldn’t it be because there is something special about the way Cuba raises and cares for its kids? I would think that if their kids were malnourished and sickly this would not be the case. Haven’t heard Theo booking reservations to scout kids in Darfur, have you?

  • BetterNews

    Go for it! What do want to discuss?

  • Ryan

    OK Detroit, Toronto, New York Y and Boston have been mentioned as Garza landing spots. Where do you see him going? Do you see any other team that’s not mentioned getting him? Do you see a normal trade or a 3 team trade?

    • BetterNews

      Ya, take that! And spell Garza right for cryin out loud!

      • imwhitti

        Bless you BetterNews…. We already have and extra “Z” on our club!

        • BetterNews

          Ha! Bless you too and happy New Years! Wish you and the family the best!

          • imwhitti

            Same to you and yours. Be safe.

    • die hard

      Seattle is best choice because they have to go for it given Ichiro’s age and Felix’s contract…

  • imwhitti

    Not so sure that Garza goes anywhere….unless…there are multiple players that can immediately help the ML club involved. I sincerely believe that part of the “announcement” that everyone is available for trade is just part of the strategy from the FO. While I can forsee even more changes to our roster, I just don’t think Garza will be gone until ST at the earliest.

  • imwhitti

    Sorry for the delay…..apparently my connection won’t automatically update.

    • BetterNews

      We just went off on a tangent(Brian and I). We’re good. I think(LOL)

      • Brian Myers

        LOL Indeed, we’re good! :-)

        • BetterNews

          Happy New Year!

  • imwhitti

    That’s cool. But we still don’t need an extra Z.

    Any thoughts on moving Garza being traded?

    • BetterNews

      Don’t get me started.

  • imwhitti

    Gotta get going….thanks for the chat. I will try to get back tomorrow. Take care.

    • BetterNews

      Yes, hope to hear from you tomorrow. (BetterNews)

  • Ajbearsfan

    Damnit Brett I read the first part got all excited then NO!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I tried to emphasize up front that it wasn’t those guys so no one got hopeful.

  • Cuban Cub Fan

    Brett, I think you do great work and I enjoy reading everyone’s posts and discussion. I must comment on the suggestions that Cuba has this great healthcare system. Please stop getting your information from that slob Michael Moore. My entire family is from Cuba and I can assure you all that it is terrible. I have seen it first-hand and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

    The Cuban baseball players work hard for the opportunity to defect and come play in the United States. Much more opportunity and ability to earn enou money to pay to get their families out of that country.

    Wish you all and the Cubbies a wonderful 2012!!!

    • BetterNews

      That’s funny! Oopps!

    • Rick Vaughn

      I don’t think Brett said anything about health care.

    • Ogyu

      Take it to a politics site…

  • Ajbearsfan

    I just read the headline….woulda been great news tho

  • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

    If we sign Cespedes and Solar, we should change our name to the Chicago CUBans.

  • BetterNews

    Brett–I probably won’t post tomorrow(I know your saying GREAT) taking the wife to dinnerwow(dinner and wow after). Have a great New Year bash, I’ll continue too post even if Garza gets moved.

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