There is a growing list of players to make their way from Cuba to the Major Leagues who’ve found success. Four members of that list have figured prominently in headlines this season – Yoenes Cespedes slugged his way to winning the Home Run Derby, Aroldis Chapman has remained among the top relievers in the National League, Jose Fernandez is emerging as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate, and Yasiel Puig has captured the hearts of fans in Los Angeles and beyond. With each of their successes, the motivation for more Cuban-born players to defect and make their way to the Majors grows.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is hoping to be the next to join that group and the right-hander has been cleared to sign with a team, something that numerous industry experts feel could happen as soon as this week.
The 26 year old Gonzalez defected from Cuba earlier this year before establishing residency in El Salvador. He’s since been working out for scouts in Mexico and has thrown in a handful of showcase opportunities for the Tijuana Toros. He’s believed to throw four pitches – a mid-90s fastball, a changeup, a forkball, and a curveball – and some have suggested that it might only take a few starts in the minors before he’ll be ready to join a Major League roster. Gonzalez has shined for the Cuban National Team in two Baseball World Cups (2009 and 2011), but because of his attempts at defection he’s been suspended for most of the past two years.
The Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, and Toronto Blue Jays have all been linked to Gonzalez in recent weeks. It is believed, however, that the Los Angeles Dodgers could already be emerging as a front runner for his services. Peter Gammons has even heard that the team could be preparing to make an offer in the neighborhood of five years and $50 Million.
To some degree Gonzalez is still an unknown, as many international prospects ultimately are. To suggest that a team would be willing to spend such an enormous figure to acquire him almost seems unbelievable in some regards. Sometimes these unknowns pan out, however. There was a belief at the time that the Dodgers overpaid to sign Puig, an even lesser known player at the time than Gonzalez, and that deal has worked out admirably thus far. The Dodgers just might be banking on finding that success again.