The race to sign Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas is heating up once again.
The Braves and Padres have emerged as the frontrunners in the Tomas’ sweepstakes and top officials from both clubs are expected to meet with him this weekend in the Dominican Republic, according to industry sources.
What’s more, sources indicate Tomas is currently mulling offers and his camp is considering attending Winter Meetings in San Diego next month. The slugger is believed to be seeking at least a five to seven year deal with an annual salary near $15 million, but the Tomas’ camp has not ruled out the possibility of signing a short-term, high-value deal that would allow him to return to the market sooner rather than later.
Tomas, who turned 24 on Nov. 14, left Cuba last summer and trained six days a week for four months until the rules allowed him to begin working out on a baseball field in early September. He starred in a showcase in front of scouts from all 30 Major League team later in the month and held private workouts for the D-backs, Dodgers, Mariners, Giants, Padres, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox and Royals in the weeks that followed.
The Phillies were previously mentioned as the favorite to land the slugger.
Tomas played five seasons for the Havana Industriales in the Serie Nacional in Cuba, which means he was subjected to the international signing guidelines. Overall, he hit 30 home runs with 104 RBIs in 205 regular-season games for the Industriales, starting in 2008. However, he never played more than 69 games during the Serie Nacional’s 90-game regular season and did not play during the 2010-11 season.
The son of a fuel truck driver, Tomas is from the La Cuevita San Miguel del Padron section of Havana. He began playing baseball at age 6 with the other neighborhood children in the street, and he often tagged along with his grandfather to watch the hometown Havana Industriales play.
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The deal is pending a physical. The club has not confirmed the agreement.
“This is a dream come true,” Baldoquin said in Spanish from the Dominican Republic. “I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. I’m ready for the next part of my journey.”
Baldoquin’s bonus would be the highest given to an international amateur player during the current international signing period, surpassing the $3.1 million signing bonus awarded to teenage shortstop Gilbert Lara, ranked No. 4 on MLB.com’s Top 30 International Prospects, by Brewers on July 10.
Baldoquin, 20, has already come a long way. He played three seasons for Las Tunas in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, the top league on the island, and was also part of the country’s 16-and-under national team. The 5-ft-10, 180-pound infielder can play third base and the outfield. He left Cuba in February and has been training in the Dominican Republic.
Because he is under 23 and has not played in a Cuban professional league for at least five seasons, Baldoquin is subject to the international signing guidelines.
In accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool based on the team’s record in 2013 for the international signing period, which started on July 2. The Angels’ bonus pool total for this year’s signing period is $2,383,700, and because they are expected to exceed the pool by 15 percent or more with the Baldoquin signing, the club will not be allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods and will have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.
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Scouts believe Yoan Moncada could be the best teenage prospect to come from Cuba in years.
Now, he is one step closer to making his Major League dream a reality.
Moncada, 19, a switch-hitting infielder from the Cuban city of Cienfuegos, has established residency in Guatemala, and is petitioning for free agency with Major League Baseball, according to an industry source. The teenager must still be unblocked by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before he can come into a final agreement with a club.
Moncada has a showcase tentatively scheduled for Nov. 12 in Guatemala.
Because he is under 23 and has not played in a Cuban professional league for five or more seasons, Moncada will be subjected to the international signing guidelines but it’s unclear if he will sign during 2014-15 international signing period that started July 2 and ends June 15, 2015 or during the 2015-2016 signing period that starts on July 2, 2015.
Scouts have called Moncada the next Jorge Soler and his skills have been matched up against Yasiel Puig’s at the same age. He once beat new Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo in a base running competition during the Serie Nacional all-star festivities in Cuba and his power has been compared to Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas.
Moncada, who also plays shortstop and third base, starred for Cuba’s top team of 15- and 16-year-olds and made a name for himself at the U-16 IBAF World Baseball Championships in Mexico.
He made his debut for Cienfuegos at age 17 and hit .277 during parts of two seasons. He played alongside White Sox slugger Jose Abreu and Dodgers infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena. Moncada was also teammates with Abreu, Arruebarrena and other notable Cuban players like Yulieski Gourriel, Alfredo Despaigne and Jose Miguel Fernandez on Cuba’s national team during the 2013 World Port Tournament in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Raisel Iglesias, who signed a seven-year, $27 million deal with the Reds, was also one of Moncada’s teammates.
Additionally, Moncada was on Cuba’s preliminary roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
While many Cuban players are known to leave the island in late-night escapes or defect from the Cuban national team during an international tournament, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Moncada was granted his release from his Serie Nacional Cienfuegos team earlier this year and cleared by Cuba’s National Baseball Commission. He was granted a visa and a passport by the Cuban government and left on an airplane to Central America, where he has been training for the last several months.
The Moncada sweepstakes will be interesting. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, who have a reputation for signing top talent on the international market, have spent more than 15 percent of their allotted bonus pools and are in the maximum penalty range for the 2014-15 signing period. The penalty includes a 100 percent tax on their pool overage and prohibits them from signing any pool-eligible player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods.
In short, the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays will not be able to sign Moncada if he becomes eligible to sign after June 15.
The Cubs and Rangers, who are big players in Latin America but cannot sign an international player for more than $250,000 during the current signing period because they exceeded their 2013-14 bonus pools by more than 15 percent, could become players in the Moncada sweepstakes if he becomes eligible after June 15.
Representatives from every team are expected at the showcase.
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Cardinals top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend were killed in a car accident near his home in the Dominican Republic on Sunday afternoon, according to the player’s agent Brian Mejia.
Taveras was 22.
There were no other details available. The Cardinals are still gathering information.
“Obviously, we have deep condolences to his family,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. “We are still waiting for more details before issuing a full statement.”
Taveras made his Major League debut this season.
The Dominican Prospect League (DPL) Elite Travel team capped off their four-day tournament in front of an estimated 70 domestic scouts and front office personnel with a game against Canada’s Ontario Blue Jays on Wednesday at Ft. Lauderdale Stadium.
De Jon Watson, Arizona’s Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, was among the baseball officials in attendance at the event.
“Overall, it was a great event. The guys were really impressive and we were able to get all of the work in,” said Ulises Cabrera, co-founder of the DPL said. “It was not something that the American audience — scouts and front office people — have ever really seen before, this type of talent in this type of format where they could get eyes on them personally. From that standpoint, it was really successful.”
The event started Sunday with a timed 60-yard run, batting practice and infield and outfield practice as part of “Scout Day” for the 60 participating 15-and-16 year-old prospects from the Dominican Republic. The prospects, who will become eligible to sign when the international signing period begins on July 2, were separated into four teams and played two games per day in the final three days of the event.
The DPL, which kicked off its season with its annual Scout Day and tournament in September in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, has another event planned for the first week of December. The league also has weekly games.
Here’s how it all works:
A 16-year-old international player is eligible to sign with a Major League team from July 2, 2015, through June 15, 2016, provided the prospect turns 17 before Sept. 1, 2015, or by the completion of his first Minor League season. Additionally, any prospect that is already 17 or older and has not previously signed a Major or Minor League contract; resides outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico; and has not been enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico within the previous year is eligible to sign during the period.
Recently added guidelines state an international player must either be 16 years old, or within six months of the date he is eligible to agree to terms — whichever is earlier — to enter a club’s academy. Additionally, both overnight stays and one-day visits to team facilities will count towards a player’s total days with a club, and a total of 30 days are allowed within a six-month time period. Events sanctioned by Major League Baseball — such as RBI, educational and orientation programs or a Major League Baseball Amateur Prospect League event — are exceptions that do not count toward a player’s 30 days.
The new rules also prohibit a team from hosting a player overnight at a hotel, a property owned or rented by club personnel or any other facility not recognized by Major League Baseball as a “club” facility, such as an academy.
These players garnered the most attention this week in Florida:
Shortstops: Wander Javier (6-ft-1, 165 pounds), Jeison Guzman (6-ft-1, 165 pounds), Rafi Ozuna (6-ft-2, 170 pounds), Onil Cruz (6-ft-1, 145 pounds), Fernando Tatis Jr. (6-ft-1, 175 pounds), Carlos Vargas (6-ft-3, 170 pounds), Eguy Rosario (5-ft-9, 150 pounds)
Outfielders: Starling Heredia (6-ft-1, 190 pounds), Franklin Reyes (6-ft-4, 190 pounds), Juan Soto, David Sanchez (6-ft-1, 172 pounds)
Catchers: Daniel Santos (6-ft-1, 175 pounds), Gresuan Silverio (6-ft, 165 pounds)
Pitchers: RHP Luis Medina (6-ft-2, 175 pounds), Junior Perez (6-ft-4, 190 pounds)
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — If Yasmany Tomas is nervous about this weekend’s showcase, he doesn’t show it. What is clearly on display is his size — he’s every bit of the 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds that he is listed as — and his youthful enthusiasm. The 23-year-old is already having a ball, and he’s ready for the next phase of his career.
SAN CRISTOBAL, Dominican Republic — This is Fernando Tatis.
This is not.
It appears imitation is not the greatest form of flattery to Tatis and he wants the Fake Fernando to stop pretending to be him. It was funny at first, Tatis said, but now it’s not. Well, it still kind of is, but it’s really kind of not, he says.
“I had people saying they had conversations with me on Twitter and even some reporters from New York would say they talked to me on Twitter,” Tatis said with a smile. “Some of those things he wrote were pretty stupid and I was like ‘What is that?’ People who know me could tell it was fake and I would never do that. I have to get on Twitter because of that guy. He was crazy. No, I’m not mad, but I don’t think anybody would like that stuff.”
There was a real reason why Tatis was sitting in the stands.
Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., 15, was one of 100 prospects to participate in the first day of the DPL Showcase on Monday. More than 100 more are expected to participate in workouts on Tuesday. Games between the prospects are scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The prospects are expected to be eligible to sign when next year’s international signing period begins on July 2.
“My son is so much more advanced at his age than I was and he’s going to be a way better player than I was,” Tatis said. “He’s smart and he has a lot more instruction than I did, too. He picks things up quick, a lot faster than I did. He’s coming fast.”
Monday’s workout started with a 60-yard dash, infield and outfield practice and concluded with batting practice for 50 prospects. The second group of 50 prospects had their afternoon workout cut short because of rain.
The Indians were the only team that did not have a presence at the event, according to DPL officials.
“It’s fun, but it’s the first day and they are getting some nerves out,” said Ulises Cabrera, co-founder of DPL. “Overall, it was a good day. The kids have done their part and I think scouts are intrigued by what they see.”
These are a few of the many players to watch this week:
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, 6-ft-1, 175 pounds
Franklin Reyes, OF, 6-ft-4, 190 pounds
Rafi Ozuna, SS, 6-ft-2, 170 pounds
Carlos Vargas, SS, 6-ft-3, 170 pounds
Jeison De La Cruz, OF, 6-ft-2, 190 pounds
Rafioly Urena, OF, 6-ft-4, 200 pounds
Wander Javier, SS, 6-ft-1, 165 pounds
Onil Cruz, SS, 6-ft-1, 145 pounds
Welin Liriano, SS, 5-ft-10, 160 pounds
Maykel Rabsatt, 3B, 6-ft-2, 185
Here are a few more photos from Monday:
Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas has taken another step toward fulfilling his Major League dream.
The 24-year old corner outfielder has been unblocked by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and is waiting to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, according to an industry source.
A showcase for the 6-ft-2, 240-pound Tomas is tentatively scheduled for the end of next week in the Dominican Republic.
The next top Cuban prospect is expected to follow in the footsteps of countrymen Rusney Castillo, who recently signed a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with the Red Sox, Jose Abreu, who signed a six-year, $68 million dollar contract with the White Sox, and Yasiel Puig, who signed a seven-year, $42 million deal with the Dodgers.
Tomas cannot enter into an agreement with a team until he has been declared a free agent.
Here’s what we know: Tomas is known for his power and he has a reputation for launching long home runs, but he’s also prone to big swing and misses. He’s agile for his size, and he has a strong arm, but there is room for improvement on defense. As a result, he’s characterized as “high-risk, high-reward” type of player in some international scouting circles. He is said to be in much better physical shape and has worked on his approach at the plate since leaving the island.
Tomas has some experience as a member of Cuba’s international team, including the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He also played five seasons for the Havana Industriales in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, which means he will not be subjected to the international signing guidelines when he becomes eligible to sign.
Overall, Tomas hit 30 home runs with 104 RBI in 205 regular season games for the Industriales starting in 2008. He never played more than 69 games during the Serie Nacional’s 90-game regular season and did not play during the 2010-2011 season.
Tomas defected from Cuba in June and later established residency in Haiti.
Cuban outfield prospect Rusney Castillo put on a show during his tryout in front of Major League scouts and executives on Saturday in Miami and now teams want to see him one-on-one.
Castillo will participate in a private workout for the Phillies on Tuesday and the Red Sox on Friday, according to industry sources. The Yankees have also shown serious interest in the 27-year-old.
These tryouts come a few days after the 5-foot-9, 200-pound right-handed hitter ran the 60-yard dash, participated in live batting practice, threw from the outfield, and fielded grounders at shortstop in front of representatives from 28 of 30 teams at the University of Miami.
Here’s what we know about Castillo: He is known for his speed and considered a line-drive hitter with power. Scouts have also praised his athleticism. He’ll likely start the season in the Minor Leagues once he signs, but there’s a belief that he could be in the big leagues by the end of the season and compete for a starting job in Spring Training.
Castillo, who left Cuba six months ago, established residency in Haiti and was cleared by the U.S. government to sign with a team earlier this month. He is represented by Roc Nation Sports, a joint venture between Roc Nation and CAA Sports,