The Yankees have been linked to a few Cuban defectors this off-season. I thought it might be appropriate to have a separate thread to discuss this topic.
First this is the process that players must go through that want to play in the USA:
Another rule/point:Any Cuban defector who wants to do business with an American company must first establish residency outside Cuba and the United States, a process that can take several months, depending on the country of residence. Cuban players must also petition MLB to become free agents and be unblocked by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before they can enter into a contract with a club. Unblocking can take several weeks.
This is perfect because it should allow the bigger market teams to flex their financial muscles.Cuban players who are at least 23 years old and have played in a Cuban professional league for three or more seasons are exempt from the international signing guidelines established by the collective bargaining agreement, effectively making them free agents once they are eligible to sign with a big league club.
Someone asked Ben Badler of Baseball America about the top Cuban prospects. His tweet:
Some basic and scouting info that I managed to find about the three mentioned prospects.
1- Raicel Iglesias - 23 - 5'11 - 165
Source: http://www.baseballamerica.com/inter...s-leaves-cuba/Major league scouts (and Baseball America) have been able to see Iglesias pitch in person outside of Cuba twice this year. At the World Baseball Classic in March, Iglesias pitched at 88-92 mph. When Cuba visited the U.S. in July for a five-game friendship series against the U.S. College national team, Iglesias looked more impressive, throwing 92-95 mph while varying the speed and shape of his sweepy 76-81 mph breaking ball to get swings and misses.
2- Erisbel Arruebarruen - 23 - 6'0 - 198
Source: http://www.baseballamerica.com/inter...a-leaves-cuba/At 6 feet, 195 pounds, Arruebarruena has clean hands, quick actions and good body control. He’s a below-average runner, but his quick first step and instincts give him good range. He has a quick transfer and a plus-plus arm with accuracy, which allows him to make throws from deep in the hole and turn 4-6-3 double plays with ease. His awareness in the field is advanced and he’s shown the ability to make the barehanded play look routine and make strong throws from different angles. Scouts have called Arruebarruena a magician in the field, and if he can hit enough to be an everyday major league shortstop, he has the potential to win a Gold Glove.
The bat, however, is a major source of concern with Arruebarruena, even more so than with Iglesias and more along the lines of Marlins Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. A righthanded hitter, Arruebarruena has a long swing, struggles with pitch recognition, swings through breaking balls in the strike zone and is prone to chasing too many pitches out of the strike zone. He has a pull-oriented approach and minimal power, so several scouts are skeptical he could hit better than .220 or hit a .300 on-base percentage against major league pitching. His lack of foot speed would also limit his appeal as a potential defensive-oriented backup, since he wouldn’t have as much value as a pinch-runner..
3- Aledmys Diaz - 23 - 6'1 - 185
The source for this is BR which is meh. There are other reports online if you Google them.Aledmis is very well rounded offensively, and this is a bit surprising for a player who is so young. Over three seasons, he has demonstrated the ability to draw walks and hit for power and average. That he has put up those numbers from a middle infield position makes his bat all the more noteworthy.
Defensively, Diaz has an above-average arm, but has been prone to making errors. In the 2009 season , he made 24 errors over the course of the 90-game season, good for the third most errors in the entire National Series for a shortstop. One year later, he made 18 errors, good for fifth most among all shortstops. Still, his he has the reaction time and fielding speed to play the position.
We've reportedly have had a huge interest in both Diaz and Arruebarruen.
While the Yanks haven't been 'directly' related to Arruebarruen, they did host his 2-day showcase at their Dominican Facility this past weekend.Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Braves, Yankees, Giants, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Cardinals were among the teams who recent attended a showcase for Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz in Mexico. Source
The 23-year-old has drawn some recent interest from the Mets, and the Yankees actually hosted his workout at their Dominican facility. Arruebarruena defected from Cuba to Haiti in mid-November. Source
There was another player that was getting some buzz; Odrisamer Despaigne - 27 (opening day) - 6'0 - 200.
He had a showcase in Spain in the past and the following 'scouting report' is from that.
In workouts in front of scouts in Madrid, Odrisamer hit the low 90s on the radar guns, maxing out around 94 MPH. Claudio Scerrato, a scout working for the Philadelphia Phillies, noted that the younger Despaigne had good control of his wide array of breaking balls—a curveball, a loopy 12-6 curveball, a slider, and a change-up which was described as major league calliber. In addition, he throws his pitches from multiple arm angles, retaining control over them while doing so. Growing up, the right-hander idolized Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, and as many little boys are wont to do, modeled his game after the former Met. "He had great control and threw from different angles, with a peculiar and very leg up. It was hard to imitate, but I did."" Indeed, scouts have compared the movement of his pitches to El Duque's, as well as his distinct and immediatley recognizable high leg kick in the wind-up. He even has some of the "big game mentality" that El Duque had, averaging 8⅓ innings in his six starts in the 51st Serie Nacional (2011-2012) playoffs.The Yanks were at his workout in Spain but more will be known about the team's interest in him once he has his showcase.Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald writes that another Cuban defector, right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne, has worked out for teams in Spain but plans to travel to Mexico to put on a bigger showcase for MLB clubs (Spanish link). According to Ebro, the Phillies, Yankees, Giants, Mariners and Mets have all seen Despaigne throw in Barcelona, but the showcase in Mexico "will have a more official character."
There are other potential Cuban FA's. Lesser names with not much scouting info.
24-year-old left-handed pitcher Misael Siverio, who defected to the U.S. before an exhibition game in Iowa, has established residency in Mexico and is in the process of petitioning for free agency. Right-handed pitcher Antonio Romero, 22, has also been declared a free agent and has been unblocked by OFAC but will not sign until he turns 23 in two weeks. He is currently working out in the Dominican Republic and is expected to star in a series of showcases.Link: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/...&vkey=news_mlbFirst baseman Jozzen Cuesta, 25; catcher Josue Franco, 25; right-hander Rogelio Armenteros, 18; and 25-year old outfielders Rusney Castillo and Dayron Varona are all expected to land on the free-agent market in the near future.
Just some info....