(Photo Credit: Behind the Bag)
As if the player depth throughout the entire organization wasn’t already at an extremely high level, the Dodgers held a private showcase for Cuban star Yulieski Gourriel on Tuesday, and appear to be one of several clubs interested in possibly signing the 32-year-old infielder.
Outside of needing only a few weeks in the minors to adjust to American pitching, Gourriel certainly gives the impression of being major league ready, having been named Cuba’s top player in April of 2015 by Ben Badler of Baseball America.
Primarily a third baseman and a second baseman, Gourriel began his professional career at age 17 with Gallos de Sancti Spiritus in the Cuban National Series in 2001 before moving on to the Industriales de La Habana in 2013. He also played one year in the Japan Central League with the Yokohama BayStars.
He has a career slash line of .335/.417/.580 and has 250 homers over 5491 plate appearances in 15 seasons as a professional. His best year came in 2009 for Sancti Spiritus, when he hit .363/.455/.686 with 30 home runs and 105 RBI in only 89 games.
Here’s a brief excerpt from Badler’s scouting report, who cites numerous similarities to MLB infielders Hanley Ramirez and David Wright:
“Gourriel has all the attributes to be an above-average offensive player. He has plus bat speed and squares up all types of pitches with good hand-eye coordination and barrel control. He wraps his barrel behind his head, angling the bat toward the pitcher, but he gets the barrel into the hitting zone quickly and has good plate coverage. He stays within the strike zone and uses the whole field, and with plus raw power on the 20-80 scale, he offers a balance of being able to hit for average, get on base and hit for power.”
Although he has officially been declared a free agent, Gourriel is prohibited to sign with any team until July 2, according to MLB rules. While the Dodgers are unable to sign pool-eligible international players for more than $300,000 in either of the next two signing periods, there’s a loophole where the club can continue to sign players like Gourriel, who are subject to international spending limitations.
The Dodgers have been very aggressive in the Cuban market over the past several years, signing players like Yasiel Puig, Alex Guerrero, Erisbel Arruebarrena, Hector Olivera, Yadier Alvarez, Yusniel Diaz, Yaisel Sierra, and most recently, Yordan Alvarez, to multi-year deals.
Jim Bowden of ESPN reports that the Angels, Giants, Yankees, Astros and Mets also have interest in the Cuban superstar.
Sandy Alderson, general manager of the Mets, confirmed that Gourriel will workout for his club on Wednesday.