Jose Abreu, the latest Cuban defector, will start the showcase circuit next week. Ben Badler of Baseball America says:
Abreu will showcase for teams at the Yankees' Dominican academy on Monday, then again on Tuesday, also at the Yankees' complex. It's expected that Abreu will field ground balls at first base, take batting practice to show off his power, then face some live pitching, though he isn't expected to play in any games or simulated games.
The Yankees must be interested in signing the 26-year-old first baseman if they're going to take the time to bring him in to their complex. They could use an impact bat over the offseason, however, there is concern over whether or not he can be anything more than a Designated Hitter.
Under normal circumstances it's unwise to spend a lot on a DH, but with Alex Rodriguez likely to miss substantial time next season, Derek Jeter still recovering from injury, and Mark Teixeira returning from injury, he would be able to get a lot of playing time.
The Yankees need impact talent and he could be it. Is he their best bet? No, but he's something worth going for.
Another Cuban member of the national team, right-hander Raicel Iglesias, has defected from his home country and plans to pitch for a Major League Baseball team. The 23-year-old pitcher is exempt from international bonus pools and will be able to sign with any team once he establishes his residency and MLB declares him a free agent.
The Yankees would be wise to jump on a highly regarded, young talent such as Iglesias. They will need to get creative in order to add some impact talent in the system. Here is what he has done:
This past season in Cuba, Iglesias made only two starts in his 15 appearances for Isla de la Juventud, but he was impressive, posting a 1.68 ERA (sixth in Serie Nacional) with 50 strikeouts (fifth in the league) and 20 walks in 53 2/3 innings.
While Iglesias threw 88-92 mph at the WBC in March, he was more impressive on Cuba's U.S. tour, where he threw 92-95 mph. Igelsias also added and subtracted from a sweepy 76-81 mph breaking ball, varying the shape on it to get a surprising number of swings and misses on the pitch. In three relief appearances against the Collegiate National Team, Iglesias threw five shutout innings with five strikeouts, no walks and only one hit allowed.
Control has been an issue in the past for Iglesias, who in 2011-12 had more walks (54) than strikeouts (53) in 76 2/3 innings while maintaining a 3.29 ERA.
"I think he's a guy that, as he gets bigger and stronger, could be in the mid-to-upper 90s," said Team USA coach Jim Schlossnagle, who is also the coach at Texas Christian. "He's lean, has a ridiculously loose arm and pounded the strike zone. I was glad they didn't pitch him more. He was the guy where you're like, ‘Let's find a way to get a lead before they get to this guy.' "
Both players would cost a good amount of money, but they would be great additions to a depleted major league team and mediocre minor league system, respectively. If the Yankees are open to spending, Abreu and Iglesias should be targets.