The Atlanta Braves Never-Ending Offseason: Dian Toscano Signs
The Atlanta Braves have made some head-scratching moves this offseason. John Hart is in a full rebuild mode and instead of going after the big names out there, he has made quite a few moves on smaller, more obscure pieces that seem to be very good fits for the Braves’ future. The same can be said for Wednesday’s signing. While the baseball world sits and awaits the end result of the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes, the Atlanta Braves swooped in a signed Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano.
MLB.com repots that the Braves and Toscano reached a $6-million, four-year deal with a $1.5-million buyout option in 2015. The 25-year old outfielder and the Braves had been discussing a deal since he arrived in the Dominican Republic, however they were awaiting for the appropriate paperwork to be filed so he could officially sign stateside. He now appears ready to take over the Braves minor leagues.
Toscano is relatively unheard of because he never played for the Cuban national team as many of the big Cuban international signings have over the past few offseasons. It doesn’t mean he isn’t ready for the big jump, however. Ben Balder of Baseball America reports that the 6-foot, 200 pound left-handed hitting outfielder is known for his bat control and plate discipline, two very important characteristics important in the development of a hitter. He doesn’t possess much pop having hit a mere three home runs in his last season in the Serie Nacional, however with solid strike-zone awareness and the addition of extra bulk, Toscano can transform and develop a bit more power in the minors.
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Not known for a strong arm, Toscano projects as a left fielder according to several scouts. He has above average speed, which could get him some time in center field as well. Toscano’s last stats in Cuba came in the 2012-2013 season playing for Villa Clara. He slashed an impressive .356/.400/.452 before leaving Cuba for the chance at major league stardom.
It will take a rather impressive spring training for Toscano to make believers that he is major league ready. He is most likely at least one year away. Toscano is projected to start the season in Double-A Mississippi, but should land himself on the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves before too long.
There are no long-term, attractive pieces in the current Atlanta Braves outfield. The same can be said for the depth in Gwinnett. B.J Upton’s days are assuringly numbered and with names like Zoilo Almonte, Todd Cunningham, Jonny Gomes and Kelly Johnson competing for 2015 outfield spots, the Toscano signing looks like another winner for Hart and his Braves. They may have to wait a year, maybe even two, but for a team that is clearly changing the culture and direction of their once-storied franchise, they may have signed their future left fielder.