Houston may have found its next Cuban star

February 10th, 2020

The Astros might have discovered their next Cuban star.

The club is the front-runner to sign Cuban outfielder Pedro Manuel Leon, 21, to a deal that is expected to be in the $4 million range, according to industry sources. Leon, who defected from Cuba in 2019, was declared a free agent on Dec. 6. He has been eligible to sign since Dec. 20.

The deal is expected to become official during the international signing period that starts July 2, 2020 and runs through June 15, 2021. The 21-year-old enters MLB.com’s Top 30 international prospects list at No. 3 behind Jasson Dominguez, 17, and Robert Puasan, 17.

There’s a lot to like about Leon. He is a quick-twitch athlete with the potential for five above average tools in the future. He’s a smaller guy, but he’s muscular and he has a track record of success. At the plate, Leon has a short and compact swing. He doesn’t swing and miss much and shows power potential to all fields. He’s also a plus-runner with basestealing potential.

On defense, he has the tools to stay in center field and displays a strong and accurate arm. He has also been praised for his makeup. Because of his age, experience and projection, there is a belief that Leon would be considered a top 5 pick if he were subject to the Draft. There is a case to be made that he would be the No. 1 overall selection because he is the age of a college junior.

Leon would be a valuable addition to the franchise if the deal comes to fruition. The Astros will not have a pick in the first or second round of the next two Drafts as part of the penalty for the sign-stealing investigation by Major League Baseball. They were not penalized on the international front.

As for Leon, he sported a .371 batting average with 15 home runs, a 1.220 OPS and seven stolen bases in 33 games for Mayabeque in Serie Nacional, Cuba’s top professional league, in 2018. He was named to the 2018 Serie Nacional All-Star Game.

The outfielder was slowed by an oblique injury at the end of 2019, but has been working out privately for teams since January. He had a showcase open to all 30 teams last week in the Dominican Republic.