This past Friday morning was the start of the international signing period, where teams dip into the international market and sign players with their respective pool amounts. The White Sox had $5,348,100 to spend this period, which was in the 3rd tier of teams with the most money. Marco Paddy, the White Sox top international scout, has played a pivotal role in signing players such as Jose Abreu, Luis Robert, and one most fans would like to forget, Fernando Tatis Jr. The South Siders again were active in this year’s period, signing players to contribute to the future major league club and to stock the farm system.
So far the White Sox have only agreed to terms with one player, which is the #1 ranked international prospect according to MLB pipeline, Cuban OF Yolequi Cespedes for $2.05 million. The club is expected to sign a few more players in the coming days with their pool.
Cespedes is the younger half brother of Yoenis Cespedes. The 23 year old throughout his playing career in Cuba has slashed .287/.351/.415 with an OPS of .766, 12 home runs, and 98 RBIs. In the past, Cespedes has profiled as more of a slap-hitting outfielder without much power. In recent months, he has been training at Yoenis’s ranch and has added 15 lbs of muscle to his frame, as he stands currently 5′ 9″ and 205 lbs.
The Cuban native is a plus runner, solid defender who can play all three outfield positions, along with the ability to spray the ball to all fields. Recently the righty has revamped his swing path to almost mimic his half brother, which should help with adding power to his game as he works his way through the White Sox minor league levels.
Marco Paddy was a guest on 670 The Score’s “Inside the Clubhouse” on Jan 9th, where he talked about Cespedes as a player and his readiness to the majors. On the show, Paddy said, “From a baseball standpoint, he’s ready. He’s got a lot of baseball experience. His baseball IQ is very high. He’s very knowledgeable about the game. He knows how to play the game. He’s one of those guys that plays under control, so it’s just a matter of getting used to the everyday grind of playing professional baseball here in the states, but from a baseball standpoint, he’s very close to being a major league player.”
The White Sox are counting on upside with this signing of Cespedes. His international stats don’t jump off the page but his recent training regime and proximity to the majors contributes to the White Sox efforts of sustained success.
RHP Norge Vera is the #15 international prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He is also the son of Norge Luis Vera, who was a notable pitcher in the Serie Nacional and for Cuba’s National team. Vera projects as a top of the rotation starter. The 20 year old already has a fastball touching the mid to high 90s with good command and repeatable delivery. His breaking pitches, which consist of a slider and changeup, also appear to be developing options of his repertoire.
Norge has pitched one full season for Santiago De Cuba and during the 2018-2019 season, he started 11 games, throwing 54.2 innings with a 3.79 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 32 BBs and 37 K’s. Given Vera’s lack of experience and age he projects to start in the lower levels of the minors.
Among the other smaller names the White Sox are expected to sign is 3B Victor Quezada out of the Dominican Republic. Quezada is a robust infielder with raw righty power. Catcher Manuel Guariman from Venezuela is known for his defensive skill behind the dish. The bonus of $475k seems quite significant, but in addition to his defensive game he posses raw power as well. RHP Adrian Gil, also from Venezuela, is 5′ 10″ and possesses a fastball in the low 90s.
Stocking and acquiring talent on the international market has been a successful method for teams to fill their farm systems and make trades to fortify the clubs’ major and minor league teams. For most players it is a slow but steady development process getting acclimated to playing baseball stateside. As stated before, the White Sox have been one of the most prominent and active teams in this period, which should play a huge role in the team’s competitive window that’s actively opening.
Featured Photo: White Sox Twitter