With the continued moratorium on big time Cuban Prospect Eddy Julio Martinez and the current signing period well underway, you may not have expected yet another big time prospect to come along anytime soon; you’d be wrong.
Indeed, there exists a 6’2”, 205-pound corner infielder/outfielder from Cuba, who just established residence in Haiti, with the hopes of securing an MLB contract soon. He has a big, muscular frame, can run the 60-yard dash in under 6.5 seconds and is just 16 (!) years old.
His name: Lazaro Robersy Armenteros Arango; His alias: “Lazarito.”
As documented well by Jesse Sanchez here, Lazarito established residency in Haiti back in May and is in the process of registering with Major League Baseball right now. There aren’t a lot of stats to dig into, but in his past, Lazarito was named to the all-tournament team, hitting .462 with nine runs, three doubles, five triples and eight RBIs in nine games in the 2014 U15 Baseball World Cup in Mexico. There is more on Lazarito’s baseball past and his interesting, yet difficult journey to register with MLB, here.
On that last bit, though, the story becomes a little bit complicated. The reason Lazarito’s name has not been more heavily circulated throughout the baseball blogosphere is because he missed the May 15 cutoff date to register for this (2015-2016) IFA signing period, which would mean he could not sign until the next period, when the Cubs will be under penalty. However, due to the apparently newly-implemented international free agent rules, which Brett deconstructed here, players born after September 1, 1995 that are typically required to register by the mid-May date, can be granted eligibility on a case-by-case basis.
In Lazarito’s case, he missed the May 15 deadline through no fault of his own – he was out of country on a wild trip that took him from Cuba to Germany to Russia, for political reasons. Having heard his case, MLB sent a memo to clubs last week indicating that Lazarito – and two other Cuban players – would in fact be eligible to sign during this IFA period.
So then, it would appear that there is yet another big time international prospect potentially available to the Cubs during this IFA period, to go along with Eddy Julio Martinez, among several others. If you recall, the Cubs have already blown their budget this year, and will have to pay a 100% tax on all of their budget overages AND will have to sit out the top end of the next two IFA periods (can’t sign any players for more than $300,000 apiece) regardless of who else they do or do not sign.
While you might pine for the Cubs to bid aggressively on Lazarito, Martinez or both, you must recall that they are not the only team in the race. The Dodgers, Giants and Royals (among potentially others) have already exceeded their IFA cap as well, and will have just as much incentive to go after the remaining big names this time around. Additionally, because of the overage penalty, every dollar the Cubs spend on a contract for the 16-year-old Lazarito is two dollars they will not have available for free agency in 2016. While I am always open to acquiring talent at any level, it’s possible that signing Lazarito or Martinez may not be the best allocation of still limited resources.
Regardless of where Lazarito ends up, though, you will hear his name attached to the Cubs. He is an exciting, young player, after all, and the Cubs are among just a handful of teams really poised to acquire his services. At his age, too, his positional limitations wouldn’t be nearly as much of a hindrance as Martinez’s would be if he was regulated to a corner position. For now, we’ll keep tabs on his situation and update you as soon as he is officially registered and able to sign. We have another interesting story line to follow, friends, and it could be a pretty big one.