Cespedes tied the single-season home run record in Cuba’s top league, Serie Nacional, during the 2010-11 season with 33 in 90 games and, according to a scout who attended the workout, “is going to be a star.”
The 6-foot, 215-pound Cespedes, another source said, “is a legitimate center fielder with power, so I understand why they think they can get $30 million. They might get more.” In June, the Texas Rangers signed Cuban center fielder Leonys Martin(notes) – considered a second-tier player to Cespedes but also three years younger – to a five-year, $15.5 million deal.
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Cespedes, whose first name was spelled Yoennis when he played for Cuba at the World Baseball Classic in 2009, is the latest in a long line of defectors. Besides Chapman, the Cincinnati Reds’ 100-mph-throwing left-hander, Kendrys Morales(notes) finished fifth in the American League MVP voting in 2009, Alexei Ramirez(notes) is among the best fielding shortstops in the major leagues, Livan Hernandez(notes) continues to pitch andJose Iglesias(notes), Dayan Viciedo(notes) and Martin represent the next generation of potential standouts.