Another Yoan (Lopez) on the radar

YoanLopezpitchesThere’s another young Cuban prospect named Yoan that is poised to make an impact on the international market.

Right-handed pitcher Yoan Lopez, 21, held a showcase for scouts in the Dominican Republic on Nov. 8 and has another showcase scheduled for next week on the island. Sources indicate the Yankees, Padres, Giants, D-backs are among the teams that have already expressed strong interest in the 6-foot-4, 190-pound pitcher.

Lopez, who established residency in Haiti and has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, must still be cleared by Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury before he can sign with a team. Top prospect Yoan Moncada, 19, a switch-hitting infielder from Cienfuegos, is also awaiting OFAC clearance before he can sign.

As for Lopez, he throws a cut-fastball, a change, a curve and a slider, but is best known for a fastball that hovers in the 93-to-95 MPH range. His fastball has been clocked at 100 MPH three times since he began working out for teams. Back in Cuba, Lopez played three seasons for Isla de la Juventud in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, the island’s top league. He sported a 3.12 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 11 walks in 49 innings in his final season before defecting from Cuba.

Because he is under 23 and has not played in a Cuban professional league for at least five seasons, Lopez 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.

It will be interesting to see which teams pursue Lopez.

The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays 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. The Angels are also expected to face the most severe penalty after agreeing to a deal worth $8 million with Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin, which could be an indication clubs are willing to accept the maximum penalty for the right player.


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