The next great thing from Cuba — Yoenis Cespedes
There’s been a fair amount of buzz lately about the Cubans who are set to join the free agent market in Major League Baseball soon. We even had a story about it here.
My fellow prospect maven Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus had a fantastic post about a video that was sent out by Cespedes’ agent. Sadly, the youtube video was initially taken down by the user. But it was reposted later — I suggest you watch it, especially with KG’s piece as a guide.
The question is, of course, is he worth the hype? Is he the best Cuban prospect since Aroldis Chapman (who, by the way, hasn’t exactly taken the big leagues by storm just yet)? It’s funny because right when all this started to come out, I received an email, unsolicited, from a scout who saw Cespedes in the Dominican Republic. He wrote:
“This guy is the real deal. A physical specimen. He put on a display of power in BP today that was simply incredible. Remember the name, Yoenis Cespedes. I would put him in the HR Derby at All-Star break right now.”
OK, high praise indeed, but I wanted to find out more and seek out another opinion. So I reached out to another scout who’s opinion I greatly value, largely because he’s never one to sugarcoat anything. He’s the one, in fact, who told me he thought Chapman would be a reliever at the next level. But he thinks the 26-year-old (if he is 26) is legit:
“He’s one one of the 2 best players off the Cuban A Team (Equipo Cuba), the other being Yulieski Gourriel. He’s better than Gourriel because he gives you his heart at all times. “
He had more to say:
“He does not give a damn about the hype or the money, he wants to be the best…Great character and competitiveness. He hit 30 HR in 366 AB’s (80 Games) in Cuba last year to set the HR record in that league, which is not the big leagues but it is still impressive due to how old the league is (younger than the NL but older than the AL; first recorded game in Cuba in 1874, 2 years before the NL is founded).
“His only drawback is that he is not a “pure” hitter. Initially he will be .240 & 18-20 HR and then .260-.270 & 30 HR. At some point he will do 30/30.”
The scout compared him to a young Torii Hunter/Vernon Wells type. But he went old school with his best comp: Jimmy “The Toy Cannon” Wynn. Wynn hit 291 homers and stole 225 bases while hitting .250 over a 15-year career (most of which came in the pitching-friendly Astrodome).
Should be fun to see who ends up bidding the most for Cespedes’ services.