Lourdes Gurriel Jr. took his first big step toward fulfilling his Major League dream and possibly playing alongside his big brother, Astros infielder Yulieski Gurriel, by participating in a large showcase Wednesday morning at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City, Panama."I have been waiting for this moment and now it
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. took his first big step toward fulfilling his Major League dream and possibly playing alongside his big brother, Astros infielder Yulieski Gurriel, by participating in a large showcase Wednesday morning at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City, Panama.
"I have been waiting for this moment and now it became a reality," Gurriel told reporters in Panama. "This was my first step to the big leagues, God willing. I'm grateful for everyone who helped me get to this point."
The 22-year-old Gurriel is ranked No. 6 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list. Lourdes is a free agent, and he is expected to sign with a Major League team when he turns 23 on Oct. 10 to avoid being subject to the international signing guidelines.
Yulieski Gurriel, 32, signed a 4 1/2-year, $47.5 million deal with the Astros in July. Lourdes Jr. is expected to start private workouts for teams soon.
"I've always thought of possibly to play with my brothers from the beginning," Lourdes Jr. said. "He's in the big leagues and I can do it, too. Why not? It's a goal of mine to be up there with him."
During the two-hour workout, Lourdes Jr. fielded balls and turned double plays at shortstop in front of 60 scouts. He then shifted to the outfield for fly balls and throws from center field. The workout included four rounds of batting practice and two more rounds of live pitching. Gurriel ran the 60-yard dash in 6.65 seconds.
Scouts in attendance were impressed with Gurriel's physique and overall strength. They also noted good arm strength on defense. However, there is a belief is that he could use more at-bats against live pitching.
"What I showed today was a product of all of the hard work I have put in since I got here and in Miami," Lourdes Jr. said. "I had trainers working really working hard from the beginning."
Lourdes Jr., who played six seasons in Cuba, was hitting .321 with eight home runs, 32 RBIs and a .924 OPS in 43 games for the Havana Industriales this season before defecting with Yulieski in February after the Caribbean Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
He was declared a free agent last month.
"I felt great," he said. "I've been ready physical and mentally for this since yesterday knowing that this would be a big day. The weather was a little warm and I prepared for that, too."
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.