Global Baseball

One man\’s year-long journey through the world of baseball

Cuban Defectors we KNOW are available

Today I went to a tryout of 4 Cuban defectors at the Arizona Diamondbacks´ academy. The scene there was wild. The players´agent told me that at least 26 major-league teams had their scouts in attendance. No idea about the identity of the few teams who weren´t interested, but I was able to pick out reps from the Devil Rays, Yankees, Mets, Giants, Cubs, Mariners, Braves, Indians, Diamondbacks, Reds, Twins, Brewers, and Nationals.

The scouts who came were a bit disappointed to find out that the most interesting player, 23-year-old pitcher Sergei Linares, was suffering from food poisoning. Linares is reported to throw in the high 90s, but he was held out of the simulated game and limited to a side-throwing session.

The other three players are 22 y/o shortstop Yohannis Perez, 23 y/o catcher Alexis Fonesca, and 25 y/o RHP Yoslan Herrera.

Perez, who was also suffering from foid poisoning, is a line-drive hitting shortstop who drew wide praise for his footwork and glove. His bat wasn´t on display too much today, as the raw DSL pitchers he faced nearly hit him five times. He ended up taking a couple of walks on pitches nowhere near the zone and hitting a double in what I saw of the simulated game.

Fonesca displayed solid gap power, going 4-for-4 in the at-bats I witnessed, with 2 doubles and 2 triples. Against better defenders, those triples would have been a double and a single, but his bat definitely drew some interest.

Herrera was nowhere near as hyped as Linares, but seemed to handle himself just fine in the tryout. His fastball was sitting between 90-92, and the DSL Devil Rays, who served as the whipping boys for this exhibition, were helpless against his breaking ball.

The prevailing opinion of the people I spoke with was that Linares and Perez were the best of the group.  It’s possible that these players could get bonuses north of $1 million.

In terms of market value, nobody´s really sure how to treat Cuban players yet. In the wake of the Contreras signing, the prevailing wisdom was that the Cuban mystique caused teams to overrate – and overpay – defectors. The Yuniesky Betancourt signing, which turned out to be a huge bargain, changed all that. There hasn´t been a significant Cuban signing since Betancourt came over, and none of the scouts I talked to today had any idea what these players´ price range would be.

I should have pictures of the 4 Cuban players in the next couple of days.


August 1, 2006 - Posted by | Cuban Baseball


  1. Hi John

    I saw the reference to your site on USS Mariner.

    I am a regular contributor to, a huge Chris Snelling, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Travis Blackley fan and an Australian living in Sydney.

    You say you will be in Australia as part of your journey, I am willing to help you with contacts, baseball events etc.

    My recommendation is that you are in Sydney in late January 07 for the Claxton Shield Australian chanpionships. It is a shame you were unable to be in Queensland for the MLB Academy held recently on the Gold Coast, where a lot of the young Australian talent (signed and unsigned) was on display for 6 weeks.

    Feel free to email me if you are going to be in Sydney and we can meet and discuss baseball in Aus.


    Comment by Dave | August 3, 2006

  2. I continue to be impressed with the information you are providing.

    Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Brian | August 3, 2006

  3. Hi John,

    This is a terrific blog. Thanks so much for it!

    Being a die-hard Mariners fan, I would have to say that the M’s seem to be the pioneers of globalizing baseball. We’re all aware that MLB teams, for a long time; has been prospecting for talent in Latin America. Players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, etc. But I think the M’s took a bold step when they signed some Japanese talent (Ichiro and Kaz Sasaki) a few years ago.

    I believe that showed the doubters among the other clubs that there is a wealth of talent all over the planet. Subsequently, they have signed some Aussies and; of course; last year, making Yuniesky Betancourt, a Cuban defector, their shortstop.

    You see a lot more of it today. I think that it should be applauded. It is not only good for baseball, but it’s good for the world population, in general too.

    Keep up the great work on the blog, and thanks again. I’ll be back!

    Comment by Mike | August 3, 2006

  4. Great job! Thanks for the pictures of Linares.

    Comment by L. D. | August 4, 2006

  5. hi, great post. i agree 100%!

    Comment by rachel | January 2, 2007

  6. […] there was this blurb from Global Baseball: Herrera was nowhere near as hyped as [Serguey] Linares [another Pirates’ signee], but seemed […]

    Pingback by Sandlot Swashbucklers | MVN - Most Valuable Network » Blog Archive » Project Profile: Yoslan Herrera | February 25, 2007

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