Oakland Athletics 17-Year-Old Cuban Prospect Makes Franchise History

Last July the Oakland Athletics were given a bonus pool of $3,818,700 to sign international free agents.

The Oakland Athletics signed five players, uncharacteristically going well over their allotted amount, spending $3 million to sign just one player alone.

Yet when the team signed the then number four ranked international prospect, 17-year-old Lazaro Armenteros, known to most of the baseball world simply as “Lazarito,” they knew what they were getting.

On Saturday, due to a slight quadriceps injury to outfielder Khris Davis, Lazarito was put on the roster for the A’s split-squad game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch in Glendale Arizona.

Still, there were no guarantees that the kid would make franchise history by actually getting put into the Cactus League game, but bench coach Mark Kotsay hinted that it was likely Lazarito would get an at-bat in the DH spot on Saturday.

And he did. He got two at-bats actually and did in fact become the youngest A’s player to ever play in a Cactus League game.

The other four international prospects the A’s signed last July are all still playing at the team’s facility in the Dominican Republic.

Unfortunately, Lazarito went 0-2, flying out to center in his first attempt and popping out to shortstop in his second at-bat.

However, that really doesn’t say anything about the youngster’s potential.

The 6’0″, 182 lb. teenager has been compared to some of the greatest players to ever play the game as well as many that are currently active in Major League Baseball.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser he was likened by one scout, before the A’s even signed him, to the amazing two-sport athlete Bo Jackson.

She goes on to say that A’s assistant GM Dan Feinstein thinks he may be the next Frank Thomas.

Former two-time world champion with the Toronto Blue Jays, now the A’s coordinator of instruction, Ed Sprague can see a lot of Rickey Henderson in Lazarito.

The A’s director of minor-league operations Ted Polakowski compares him more to an active MLB player and former Oakland Athletic, telling Slusser,

“Physically, he’s a baby Yoenis Céspedes. Much younger, smaller, but built the same way. When he walks in the door, it’s pretty impressive.”

That’s high praise for the young Cuban outfielder, not that he hasn’t heard some of it before having grown up watching guys like Yoenis Cespedes and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, who he was able to meet prior to Saturday’s game.

He can even see it sometimes himself in his stature and five-tool skill set,

“I compare myself a lot to Yoenis Céspedes because of my size, the five tools,” Armenteros said, through an interpreter. “Everything about his game sort of resembles my game.”

His current favorite players whom he intends to emulate once it’s his turn to play in the big leagues, include Cespedes along with Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Yasmany Tomas and Yulieski Gourriel, the Houston Astros third baseman.

However, beyond the many comparisons, Lazarito will more than likely soon become his own player, the one that new prospects compare themselves to.

Now that he has already set an Oakland Athletics franchise record, he is, at the very young age of 17, on his way to becoming that player.

The A’s new team president Dave Kaval has a site for the new Oakland Athletics stadium narrowed down to four places. The question looming is when will he make the official announcement?