Lourdes Gurriel Jr., younger brother of recent Astros signee, Yulieski Gurriel, has been officially declared a free agent by Major League Baseball. The Cuban star, who is one of the best international baseball prospects in the world can now negotiate a contract with any of the thirty major league teams.
A star in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, Gurriel has the ability to play all four infield positions, but spent the majority of the 2015 season playing left field for Industriales. In six seasons he has a career .277/.362/.426 slash line, but hit an impressive .344 with 53 RBI in 218 at bats in 2015.
News of his free agency was first broken by Eric Logenhagen of FanGraphs on Monday afternoon and then confirmed shortly afterwards by Gurriel himself on Instagram.
Gurriel, is expected to wait until after his 23rd birthday on October 19th before he signs with a team, so that potential interested organizations will be free of any international signing restrictions.
The Astros are perceived to be the front runners to sign Gurriel, who had been working out in Miami with former major leaguers Rey Ordonez, Placido Polanco and Jorge Toca earlier this summer before going to Panama to continue his training.
One of the top players on the island of Cuba, Gurriel is expected to be back in Miami soon, where he will be scheduling showcase events for major league scouts.
The scouting book on Gurriel is that he has good raw power and the ability to be a plus hitter who can get on base. He has average speed, but good defensive instincts and a strong arm. While he has played short stop, most scouts think that he is best suited for the hot corner.
He is sure to garner a lot of interest from major league teams and will likely get an eight figure deal not unlike that of recent Cuban-signee Yoan Moncada.
We will have more on Gurriel in a few weeks when we begin publishing scouting reports on the Grading on the Curve Top 100 Prospect list members, where (spoiler alert) he and other international free agents will be represented.