In the last 24 months, it has become difficult to keep tabs on all of the talented players defecting from Cuba. With MLB teams increasingly willing to bet big on Cuban stars, among other procedural/political reasons, it seems the best Cuban players are increasingly willing to risk the defection process to play in the big leagues in the United States.
The most recent big name we’ve been tracking is Yasmani (sometimes Yasmany) Tomas, a power-hitting outfielder whose agent says he’s going to try and get a record-breaking contract. Tomas recently received an unblocking license from the U.S. Government, and indicated an interest in working out for teams in the Dominican Republic.
Jesse Sanchez reports that the workout is now scheduled for Sunday, September 21 at the Giants’ facility in the DR. Does the location of the workout mean anything? Eh. The Giants were in on fellow Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo until the end, and do have a clear need for an outfield bat going forward, but money is still going to talk on this one.
I look forward to hearing reports on Tomas’s performance on Sunday, and whether he thereafter goes on a circuit of individual team showcases. If he wants more than Castillo got from the Red Sox (six years, and $72 million, effectively), he may have to do it. Nick Cafardo hears from one international scout that Tomas could top $100 million.
If you’re looking for the latest Tomas hype video, Ben Badler has you covered.
Meanwhile, there’s another Yasmany defecting from Cuba: 23-year-old starter Yasmany Hernandez. Like Tomas, Hernandez is not subject to any signing restrictions, having played at least five years at the highest level in Cuba. Unlike Tomas, however, Hernandez is not expected to be a big-timer.
Ben Badler writes about Hernandez’s defection, and, although Hernandez led Cuba’s highest league in ERA this year, his peripheral stats and stuff are underwhelming. His fastball works in the mid-to-upper 80s, and his stuff is more of a “pitchability” type. He uses a variety of pitches, speeds, and arm angles to keep batters off-balance. That tends to work a little less well in the Major Leagues than it does in some international leagues and in the minor leagues, but a 23-year-old who has had that kind of success at least is modestly interesting.
We’ll see if and when any buzz builds on Hernandez when he establishes residency outside of Cuba, and whether the Cubs show up on the interest radar.
(There’s also 23-year-old pitcher Jorge Despaigne, but, because he’s subject to IFA restrictions – and likely to sign for more than $250,000 – the Cubs will not be eligible to sign him unless he somehow fails to sign until next July.)