Out of nowhere, a center field prospect has emerged, and he looks to be quite the talent. Ok, maybe this whole thing’s not out of nowhere, but I certainly hadn’t heard of Yoenis Cespedes before today. And now, thanks to his strange video below, which shows him hitting some slow mo homers, about 10 seconds of fielding, and lots of core training, he is clearly on his way to a hall of fame career:
All kidding aside, he’s probably considered the best position player in Cuba. He’s 26 years old, and defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic. He’s looking for a major league contract, and people are taking him seriously. While Kevin Goldstein has a great overview of the ridiculous video, he also mentions a few important points. Cespedes hit .333/.424/.667 with 33 HRs last year, all those threes further adding to his mystique. He scored 89 runs and stolen 11 bases (caught 4 times) in his 90 games played. Goldstein writes that Cespedes is “a tremendous talent—arguably the best all-around player to come out of Cuba in a generation. He’s a legitimate center fielder with plus power and speed and is in his prime.”
And Goldstein isn’t the only one buzzing about Cespedes. Adam Kilgore over at the Post notes that the Nationals are definitely paying attention. He writes that Nats front office folks were in the DR, watching the Cuban star work out. And they are impressed with his talent, and his ability to hit and to field (although not with his arm). So will the Nats go after him?
That’s tough to say. He’s more of a Hideki Matsui in the lineup than an Ichiro, if you want to compare him to other international players coming over. And while Matsui was great, he ended up hitting about half as many HRs as might have in Japan. Well, maybe not half, but he was a mid-20s HR guy, not the 40+ guy people were projecting. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Cespedes ended up being more like a 20-25 HR guy here. Which is still outstanding for a center fielder, especially if he can hit over .300.
Despite the glowing reviews, conventional wisdom says the Nats are looking to fill their leadoff spot with the CF they acquire. Therefore, they wouldn’t go after Cespedes. But, if that’s they case, you don’t just eliminate Cespedes, you eliminate trading for BJ Upton as well. And I’m just not sure that it’s true. So expect the Nats, at the very least, to be in on the conversation for this guy. How far they go – that may depend on whether or not they can get who they want in a trade. And that would make him a pretty interesting second choice.