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Source: Ruiz leaves Cuba, seeks MLB contract

Pitching prospect could establish residency in Haiti in order to become free agent
MLB.com

Top Cuban pitching prospect Norge Luis Ruiz has left Cuba in order to seek a contract with a Major League club, an industry source told MLB.com.

Ruiz, 21, could establish residency in Haiti, the first step to becoming a Major League free agent.

Top Cuban pitching prospect Norge Luis Ruiz has left Cuba in order to seek a contract with a Major League club, an industry source told MLB.com.

Ruiz, 21, could establish residency in Haiti, the first step to becoming a Major League free agent.

Because of his age and experience -- Ruiz pitched three seasons in Cuba's Serie Nacional -- he will be subject to international signing guidelines. The right-handed pitcher should be able to sign during the upcoming 2015-16 international signing period if he is declared eligible by Major League Baseball.

Ruiz, who throws a fastball in the low- to mid-90s along with a slider, changeup and split-fastball, was the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year in Cuba. A member of the Cuba's national team, Ruiz played a role in the country's championships at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games and the '15 Caribbean Series in Mexico.

Ruiz went 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 9 1/3 innings during the Caribbean Series. He struck out five and walked one batter.

Fellow top pitching prospect Vladimir Gutierrez, who played with Ruiz at the Caribbean Series, is also seeking a Major League contract and recently established residency in Mexico. Last month, right-handed pitcher Yasiel Sierra, 23, left Cuba and began the process of establishing residency, either in the Dominican Republic or Haiti.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB.