Most eyes on the Texas Rangers prospects this spring have focused on Jurickson Profar, but because I am above it my own eyes are focused on a certain Cuban. A Cuban who will replace Josh Hamilton in center field.
When the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball team won the rights to Cuban defector Leonys Martin the hope was that they scored a major coup by landing a five-tool player.
Cuban defectors tend to come to this United States with a great deal of hype, sign for a bunch of money and then ...? Are they worth it?
Here are the roughly 20 (plus/minus) active major league baseball players who are listed having been born in Cuba.
Yonder Alonso, 1B/LF, Padres. .278, 9 HR, 80 rbi in 666 ABs. Every day player. Looks to be solid.
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS/2B, Royals. .266, 67 HR, 411 rbi in 3,661 ABs. Every day player. Solid.
Francisley Bueno, P, Royals. 1-1, 2.29 ERA, 19.2 IP. Jury out.
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics. .292, 23 HR, 82 rbi in 487 ABs. Looks to be big time.
Aroldis Chapman, R, Reds. 11-8, 2.33 ERA, 135 ip. Electric stuff & velocity. Can he stay healthy?
Jose Contreras, P, Pirates. 78-67, 4.55 ERA in 1,168 ip. Had a 10-yr career; in Pirates camp.
Yunel Escobar, SS, Rays. .282, 53 HR, 298 RBI in 2,929 ab. Played six mlb seasons. Very solid.
Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres. .297, 8 hr, 36 rbi, 192 ab. Looks very promising.
Adeiny Hechavarria, INF, Marlins. .254, 2 HR, 15 rbi, 126 ab. High ceiling but very young.
Livan Hernandez, P, retired? 178-177, 4.44 ERA, 3,189 ip. Gold standard. Could pitch until he's 90.
Jose Iglesias, SS, Red Sox. .135, 1 HR, 2 rbi, 74 ab. Way too early.
Kendrys Morales, OF, Mariners. .281, 79 HR, 265 rbi. One brilliant season in '09. Good hitter.
Brayan Pena, C, Tigers. .248, 14 HR, 98 rbi in 884 ab. 8 mlb seasons. A decent journeyman.
Yasiel Puig, INF, LA Dodgers. Nothing yet but the 22-year-old is raking so far in the Cactus League.
Alexei Ramirez, INF, White Sox. .276, 78 HR, 358 rbi, 2,814 ab. Borderline All-Star.
Eddy Rodriguez, C, Padres. .200, 1 HR, 1 rbi, 5 ab. Again, looks promising.
Raul Valdes, P, Phillies. 6-6, 4.07 ERA, 101.2 ip. Five teams in 3 years for the 35 year old.
Dayan Viciedo, INF/LF, White Sox. .263, 31 HR, 97 rbi, 711 ab. '12 was a breakout year. Every day guy.
As for Martin ... in 54 big league at bats, he is batting .204 with six doubles, two triples, six rbi and is a perfect 3-for-3 on steals. In Cactus League ball, he is batting .381 in 21 at bats with two triples and two rbi.
What does all of this mean for the Rangers?
Using these examples of the other Cuban-born players, and his own development, Martin will develop into a solid every day player. A hitter with extra base power, a solid base stealer, and a fielder who can cover the miles of outfield ground in Arlington.
Maybe not today, but sooner rather than later.
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