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  • International free agent

    Three Cuban players for Pinar Del Rio have left the country, according to Cuban national baseball commissioner Heriberto Suarez.

    Two of those players, first baseman Lazaro Alonso and infielder/outfielder Osniel Madera, should draw interest from major league teams. Yoel Rojas, the No. 4 catcher on Pinar Del Rio who entered the season as a 20-year-old, also left the country.

    Alonso, a lefthanded hitter who is around 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, was in the midst of a strong rookie season in Serie Nacional. Entering the season as a 19-year-old, Alonso batted .299/.436/.494 in 110 plate appearances with four home runs, 20 walks and 19 strikeouts. Alonso spent most of his time at DH at first base, along with a bit of time in left field as well. He had started to receive regular playing time in November in December, but since the second half of the season began last month, Alonso had just three plate appearances in 17 games, with veteran William Saavedra logging the majority of the work at first base and Pinar Del Rio using Randy Arozarena as the primary DH.

    Alonso played in Cuba’s “Sub-23” league last summer for players age 23 and under and had a loud season at the plate, batting .395/.495/.535 in 104 plate appearances, ranking second in the league in batting average.

    Alonso will be subject to the bonus pools,

    (Google Translate) Japanese professional baseball teams and the 33 Major League Baseball (MLB) sets out the remaining challenges are frustrated gotta Yang Hyeon-jong (27) Research on KIA Tigers.

    Japanese sports professional media The Daily Sports' "The Great Hanshin Korea should observe lefty throwing fastballs up to Yang Hyeon-jong 152㎞" he reported.

    According to the media, Hanshin has sent a team in a practice match official KIA and the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of 24 and 26 held in Okinawa.

    The Daily Sport 'emphasized that "Yang Hyeon-jong was going to realize that appearances are in practice match against Hiroshima" and "This is a golden opportunity Yang Hyeon-jong is to determine whether anyone in Japan through other".

    The Daily Sport 'is said, "After the season Yang Hyeon-jong is again expected to challenge the international stage expansion".

    WATCH: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s swing still looks good

  • #2
    (Google Translate) Pinar del Rio shortstop Luis Alberto Valdés was caught in an attempt to escape the Island with his wife, a few days after winning with his team the Caribbean Series in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said the government journalist Alejandro Céspedes Morejon in Sports in Pinar blog.

    2014 NPB Draft Review

    Tomohiro Anraku, RHP

    Rakuten Eagles, 1st round

    L/R, 6’2″, 187 lbs, DOB: 11/4/1996

    The Stuff: low-mid 90s FB, mid 70s SL, upper 60 CV

    You may have heard of the Rakuten Golden Eagles’ 1st roudner. Yes, the guy who threw a grand total of 772 pitches in 9 days, including a 232-pitch start, in the 2013 Spring Koshien.

    His arm is a time bomb that could explode again at any moment. At this point, he could still be a front line starter in NPB, but not a future MLB TORP.

    Kohei Arihara, RHP

    Nippon Ham Fighters, 1st round

    R/R, 6’2″, 198 lbs, DOB: 8/11/1992

    The stuff: low-mid 90s FB, SL, CH, CV, CT

    Entering the draft, the right hander was regarded as the best college arm in the class. He features a fastball up to 97, mixes various breaking balls with above average command, as his career 201/66 K/BB ratio in 270 IP at Wasada University suggests. If you look at his last 3 seasons, he posted an even better 105/20 K/BB in 118.1 IP. The con of him is an elbow injury kept him sidelined for most of his final college season. While Arihara’s certainly far away from contributing at the MLB level, he could be a middle-of-the-rotation guy with a solid K/BB ratio if he does get there.

    Kohei Arihara indicates his goal is to have a Yu Darvish like career.


    • #3
      Vladimir Gutierrez and Yadier Alvares, two promising young Cuban pitchers, won’t be eligible to sign during the current international signing period, according to major league rules.

      A few years ago, Major League Baseball began a registration system for international amateur players. Any player born after Sept. 1, 1995 must be officially registered with the commissioner’s office to be able to sign. Since Gutierrez, a 19-year-old born Sept. 18, 1995, and Alvares, an 18-year-old born March 7, 1996, are not registered, they are ineligible to sign during the current 2014-15 international signing period. For Gutierrez and Alvares to be eligible to sign during the upcoming 2015-16 international signing period, which begins on July 2, they must be registered by May 15.

      The registration rules help the commissioner’s office keep some order to a chaotic system of signing Latin American amateur players from countries like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, where players don’t play for college or high school teams, and where age and identity fraud remain prevalent. Cuban players, though, are in a tough spot. While there are Dominican players every year who would otherwise be eligible to sign but have to wait until the following July 2 because they did not register, Cuban players are unable to register at all while they are living in Cuba.

      It’s not clear whether Gutierrez or Alvares would have been able to be cleared to sign during the current signing period anyway, however, regardless of the registration restrictions. Gutierrez just defected from the Caribbean Series team in Puerto Rico last month, so teams were expecting him to be ready after July 2 anyway. Alvares hasn’t been out of Cuba for much longer. Both players still need to obtain permanent residence in a foreign country and then be declared free agents by MLB before they are free to sign.

      That means, barring any changes, five teams will essentially be eliminated from signing Gutierrez and Alvares. The Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees have all gone over their current 2014-15 international bonus pools, which means that beginning on July 2, they won’t be able to sign any pool-eligible players for more than $300,000 for two years.

      In August, Baseball America ranked Gutierrez the No. 12 player still in Cuba after he won the rookie of the year award during the 2013-14 season in Serie Nacional. He has increased his stock since then thanks to his improved control, with a projectable frame that should help him add to a fastball that touches 93 mph, along with a plus curveball. Alvares is a more recent pop-up player who has intrigued scouts in limited looks, with erratic control but a fastball that has touched 97 mph.

      Dodgers possibly to spend big on July 2

      According to Peter Gammons of MLB Network and, there are “five teams over $70 million” on the 29-year-old Olivera, who was a .323/.407/.505 hitter in 10 seasons with Asvispas de Santiago of Cuba’s Serie Nacional. Olivera played primarily at second base in Cuba, but the Dodgers — who are known to have serious interest — would likely ask him to play third base. The Braves, Giants, Athletics, Padres, Rangers, and Yankees are some of the other clubs that have been connected to him.


      • #4
        Last season, there were 224 players born outside the U.S. (26.3 percent) on the 2014 Opening Day 25-man rosters and inactive lists. Of the 853 players (750 active 25-man roster players and 103 disabled or restricted Major League players) on March 30, 2014 rosters, 16 countries and territories outside the U.S. were represented, the highest total since 16 countries were also represented in 2008. The Texas Rangers by themselves opened with 15 players from nine different countries. mble.html#65k6aIsz2Pfrl9qY.99


        • #5
          2015-16 MLB International Bonus Pools

          Team Bonus Pool
          1. Diamondbacks $5,393,900
          2. Rockies $4,966,300
          3. Rangers $4,586,600
          4. Astros $4,248,800
          5. Twins $3,948,500
          6. Red Sox $3,681,000

          The Diamondbacks have the largest bonus pool, while the Angels have the smallest. However, the Diamondbacks will be unable to sign any pool-eligible player for more than $300,000 during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods as a penalty for going more than 15 percent over their current 2014-15 pool, mainly to sign Cuban righthander Yoan Lopez. The Angels, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees will also be unable to sign any pool-eligible players for more than $300,000 during the 2015-16 signing period.


          • #6
            The Red Sox have the sixth-most to spend at $3,681,000, but Boston is going to be able to get far less for their money this time around, thanks to their 2014-2015 international signings.

            The Rangers can trade the individual bonus slots from Red Sox to sign Vladimir Gutierrez or Yadier Alvares.


            • #7
              Padres eager to make splash internationally

              Nearly all of Preller's immediate work with the Padres in his first offseason was domestic, as in tending to the roster, revamping the lineup and adding offensive upgrades like Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Derek Norris and Wil Myers, among others.

              That didn't stop him from making frequent trips to the Dominican Republic to scout players, though.

              "We don't have the ability to do what the Cubs did [build through the Draft]. But he said you don't have to choose between one or the other. You can have both. You can have a strong pursuit of amateur and international talent and still add impact players.

              "I'm excited to see the second half of what he's known for [in the international market]."

              The Padres could be bigger players internationally while many teams will have to simply sit and watch, as the Red Sox, Yankees, D-backs, Rays and Angels are all limited to $300,000 over the 2015-16 and 2016-17 international signing period for amateurs under the age of 23.

              "We've had people spending a lot of time in the Dominican Republic; he's [Preller] been there five or six times," Fowler said. "He's hired people he has confidence in. He's hired some road warriors. This has been a major priority for us.



              • #8
                International Free Agent Profile: Vladimir Gutierrez

                Vladimir Gutierrez Rodriguez was born on September 18, 1995, in Mantua, a municipality and city within the Pinar del Rijo province, home to roughly 26,000 people. Unlike most of those 26,000, Gutierrez exhibited a special talent growing up: he could throw a nine-inch sphere of cork, yarn, and leather roughly sixty feet with great speed and accuracy. As he refined his talent with age and experience, his skill came to the attention of Cuban manager Alfonso Urquiola. Urquiola was so impressed that he had the young right-hander added to the roster of Los Vegueros de Pinar del Rijo for the 53rd Serie Nacional de Beisbol, following in the footsteps of fellow right-handers Jose Contreras, Danys Baez, Yunesky Maya, and Alay Soler.

                With a league-average fastball, a developing changeup, and a devastating curveball, the 18-year-old rookie could have been immediately inserted into Los Vegueros' starting rotation. Instead, he was forced into the bullpen due to the presence of Yosvani Torres, Vladamir Baños, Julio Martinez, and Erlis Casanova; there was simply no room for the promising rookie hurler. Gutierrez took it all in stride and proceeded to have a successful rookie season, posting a 3.90 ERA in 67 innings, the majority of them from the bullpen.

                Gutierrez heated up at just the right time for Los Vegueros and was invaluable in the finals, when Pinar del Rijo took on Los Crocodilos de Matanzas. Gutierrez pitched six scoreless relief innings in game two, and held off a surging Matanzas over 1.2 innings in the clinching game six, allowing only a single run. In total, the right-hander posted a 2.18 ERA in the postseason and became just the second member of Los Vegueros to ever be named the Serie Nacional de Beisbol Rookie of the Year.


                Hector Olivera, 2B, free agent (Age: 30). The suspense is killing me. I’ve been waiting for Olivera to be declared an official free agent for months. His paperwork is in place, and gauging by the interest and projected dollars he’s going to sign for, teams seem to think the considerable risk that comes along with signing Olivera is worth it. (The latest reports suggest his eventual price tag will be somewhere in the range of $70 million, more than Yasmany Tomas and Jose Abreu last offseason.)

                Olivera doesn’t come without risk. He’s got a chronic illness that makes it reasonable to wonder whether or not he can make it through an entire major league season. Also, and we’ve got to bring it up, there’s the age issue. We think that Olivera is heading into his age-30 season, which is essentially the age we’ve come to expect for players hitting the free-agent market. Although the U.S. has rekindled it's relationship with Cuba diplomatically, we still have no way to obtain or verify their records. Olivera, like virtually every Cuban, left the island illegally -- Yoan Moncada was the first player ever to legally defect -- so there are conerns that he could be older than he claims.

                If what scouts say about his skills translates to the big leagues, Olivera could post a batting average between .270-.280 with 16-20 home runs. He has an excellent approach at the plate and his bat speed is well above average. If the plate discipline translates, he could tally an OBP in the .360-.375 range. At this point, a lot of his value is tied to his landing spot. If he’s in L.A., you can’t expect big power output, same with San Diego. But, if the Yankees land him, there’s an argument for Olivera as a top-five 2B, even with the aforementioned risk factored.

                Yadier Alvarez, SP, free agent (Age: 18). Alvarez is a buzzy name in prospect circles right now. He showed a mid- to high 90s fastball with a nasty slider at a showcase recently. The MLB, however, announced that he won't be allowed to sign with a team until July 2nd. He'll immediately become one of the better pitching prospects.

                Andy Ibañez, 2B, free agent (Age: 22). Ibañez has been declared a free agent, but not much news has surfaced about his market. Scouting reports suggest he's an excellent fielder with a knack for contact. He lacks an impact tool, so he's not a particularly exciting fantasy prospect at the moment.



                • #9
                  Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has been consistent in his support of a worldwide draft, speaking openly about his — and the owners' —desire for such a system once the collective bargaining agreement expires in 2016.

                  During a recent visit to the Arizona Diamondbacks' spring camp, Manfred said of the international draft: "It makes all the sense in the world to have a single method of entry."

                  However, MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark — Manfred's counterpart at the bargaining table — is not ready to endorse an overhaul of the sport's amateur talent market.



                  • #10
                    About 75 Cuban players are looking to sign contracts with MLB



                    • #11
                      The Importance Of Yadier Alvares, Vladimir Gutierrez On The Future Of Cuban Signings


                      Cuban infielder Hector Olivera has taken physicals for a number of teams in recent weeks, including the Dodgers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). MLB has yet to declare Olivera a free agent, but teams want to be prepared for when that moment occurs


                      The Top of the 2015 Class

                      Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., RF, Dominican

                      I reported earlier that Guerrero has a deal with the Blue Jays for $3.2 million, but I’m now told the number actually starts with a four, with most sources saying it’s $4.4 million or $4.5 million. The Jays can trade for up to $3.486 million in their bonus pool, so if this deal goes down as expected, this would push them into the penalty range.

                      Jhailyn Ortiz, LF, Dominican

                      Ortiz is a prospect of extremes. He is 16 years old, has present 70 raw power, he’s listed at 6’2/260 and ran the same 7.25 in the 60 as Guerrero, but is probably even quicker once underway. I didn’t have the camera out, but, in on of the games, Ortiz hit a triple over the center fielder’s head and going from first to third, he looked about an average runner, which is kinda unbelievable given the other information I just told you.

                      Ortiz’s arm is average and he has that looseness to his actions at the plate that tell you he’s more than just the stiff slugger most guys this size are. Like Guerrero, Ortiz wasn’t quite himself at the MLB event, with the huge stadium full of hundreds of scouts likely contributing. Ortiz whiffed on more than a few sliders out of the zone, which he’ll need to clean up, but he more than showed flashes of elite ability.

                      A scout recently told me that he saw Cecil Fielder when he was 16 years old and people don’t realize how athletic he was back then: the scout saw him reverse dunk. I don’t know if Ortiz can do that, but he’s got some of the same athletic indicators. The consensus in the scouting community is that Ortiz has or will have a deal with the Phillies and that the bonus starts with a four, with my latest intel pegging it at $4.2 million. The Phillies could trade for up to $4.5 million in cap space, so this alone doesn’t mean they will be going over their bonus pool, but I’m sure fans will now start dreaming about Ortiz as the eventual Ryan Howard replacement.

                      Wander Javier, SS, Dominican

                      Javier is widely believed to have a deal with the Twins for $4.0 million, which I believe would be the highest July 2nd bonus of all-time for a shortstop. The Twins’ pool is just under $4.0 million, which means trades could push it to nearly $6 million, so they could easily stay under after a Javier signing, with just one minor trade to add more pool space.

                      Starling Heredia, CF, Dominican

                      The Dodgers are eyeing the option to go well over in 2015 and getting a number of players like Heredia, Alvarez and others, but one executive said the Dodgers were “dragging their feet” on this decision and “stringing out” Heredia. If Heredia signs with the Dodgers, the most common number I’m hearing is $3.0 million. The Dodgers max 2015 pool after making trades for pool space is just over $3.0 million, so signing Heredia could mean the Dodgers are looking to go over their pool, but that alone may not do it.

                      Seuly Matias, CF, Dominican

                      The chatter among scouts is that Matias has a deal with the Royals, with some buzz it is as high as $3.0 million, but my latest information is that it’s $2.2 million. The Royals can trade for just over $3.0 million in their bonus pool, so Matias alone likely wouldn’t push them over, but scouts tell me Kansas City has a deal with another player for seven figures (whom I’ll write about in the next article) and that would send them over their pool if it plays out as expected.



                      • #12
                        Serious concern exists that Cuban infielder Hector Olivera has a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm, potentially hindering the market for a free agent who many expected to contribute in the major leagues this season, sources told Yahoo Sports.



                        • #13
                          Padres emerging as favorite to sign Hector Olivera

                          Although the club had a notably active offseason and increased its payroll, Passan notes the Padres reportedly made Olivera an offer worth more than $50 million. General Manager A.J. Preller has sought to upgrade the roster this offseason, and has added a handful of major league pieces with the intention of competing in the National League West in 2015. James Shields, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Derrek Norris were all added this winter, however the Padres are still not satisfied with their infield depth. Jedd Gyorko and Will Middlebrooks are expected to start at second and third base, respectively, for the Padres.


                          Back when he was lower on the totem poll working for the Texas Rangers, but now he is emboldened by the leverage given to him by the Padres aggressive ownership group. In an early Preller/Olivera meeting where Preller met with Olivera at his home following an earlier workout for the San Fransisco Giants. Preller spoke in fluent Spanish to the youngster and for young players in non-English speaking countries, building that kind of rapport and trust is huge – especially for a younger GM like Preller.



                          • #14
                            Cuban star Hector Olivera is a brilliant hitting talent being hotly pursued by at least five National League teams, but whispers that he may have a UCL issue, and could even need Tommy John surgery, have made this one of the more interesting bidding processes in recent years.



                            • #15
                              Watch Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Hit Balls In The Dirt Like His Dad