Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel has taken another step toward making his big league dream come true.The Cuban star was declared a free agent on Monday by Major League Baseball and is now eligible to sign with a club, according to a source. Gurriel, who turned 32 on Thursday, is considered
Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel has taken another step toward making his big league dream come true.
The Cuban star was declared a free agent on Monday by Major League Baseball and is now eligible to sign with a club, according to a source. Gurriel, who turned 32 on Thursday, is considered to be Major League-ready.
The Cuban star is expected to begin private workouts for teams soon and avoid a large showcase for all 30 teams, a practice customary for Cuban players. He hopes to make his big league debut around Aug. 1, if not sooner, according to an industry source.
This much is also certain: Gurriel -- who defected from Cuba with his younger brother Lourdes Gurriel Jr., a top outfield prospect, after the Caribbean Series in February -- needs at-bats and will have to spend some time in the Minor Leagues to work on his timing at the plate. The Gurriel brothers, who are training in Miami, have not yet faced live pitching and are expected to intensify their training regimens.
It's already been quite a month for the Gurriels.
Last week, the brothers visited MLB's office in Manhattan and took in a game at Yankee Stadium. Lourdes, 22, who plays shortstop and outfield and was hitting .321 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs and a .924 OPS in 43 games for the Havana Industriales when he defected, has not yet been declared a free agent.
Yulieski is considered one of the most celebrated players from Cuba and his resume speaks for itself. He was an Olympian in 2004 and represented Cuba in all three World Baseball Classic tournaments. He was part of Cuban championship teams at the Pan American Games, Central American Games, World Baseball Championships, the International Cup and Caribbean Series.
Gurriel projects to hit .285 with 15-18 home runs and 85 RBIs. He can play second base and third base, and he has been described as a more fluid and athletic Jeff Kent. Gurriel hit .500/.589/.874 with 15 home runs, 20 doubles and 51 RBIs in 49 games for the Industriales in 2015.
Lourdes, who played six seasons in Cuba, is 22 but will not be subject to international signing guidelines if he signs after he turns 23 in October, and therefore would have more leverage because teams would not have to use money from their international bonus pools to sign him.
Their surname had previously been spelled Gourriel before the family changed the spelling less than two years ago, Yulieski told MLB.com earlier this year.
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.