We did it! The Miami Marlins finally made a splash in the free agent market by inking top closer Heath Bell to a 3 year deal. Still, if the Marlins are truly serious this off-season, they need to ink a few more top players to solidify a solid team to debut in their first year as the Miami Marlins. If you have kept up with this off-season, you would instantly know the fish are pursuing a number of top free-agents. With Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, and Aramis Ramirez on the radar, their is plenty of reason to be glued to the computer everyday this off-season. However, there is another prospect out there that people might not be familiar with that is being pursued heavily by the Marlins. Meet, Yoenis Cespedes.
For everyone who is not familiar with Cespedes, it is time you hop on the train. The 26 year old Cuban center fielder is considered a “5 tool player” and has been regarded as one of the best prospects to ever come out of Cuba. Defecting last summer to the DR, Cespedes is a soon to be free-agent and has caught the eye of a number of major league teams. Sometimes it is hard to judge a ballplayer from a completely different country, but Cespedes has the look and tools to contribute immediately in the majors. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, describes Cespedes as “a legitimate centerfielder with plus power and speed.” From the look of this numbers in past seasons, I would have to agree. Last season, Yoenis Cespedes put up a .333/.424/.667 batting line while slugging 33 home runs and 99 RBI’s in just 90 games! Named an all-star CF, Cespedes also finished 7’th in the league with 11 stolen bases.
Some reading these numbers would imagine that last year would be a fluke with the unreal statistics. Wrong! Not only has Yoenis been a top player in every league he has played in, but he was also a star in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He hit .458 with a double, 3 triples, and 2 home runs in just 6 games. Clearly, the man is a rare talent and can easily find a spot in the majors next season. As said earlier, a number of teams have taken notice and the Marlins are in the group. A number of insiders actually believe the fish have the best shot of inking the Cuban star thanks to the rich Cuban community in Miami along with the new stadium. Unfortunately, Cespedes will not come cheap. Many expect that it will take a contract totaling up to 50million or more to get the signature of the Cuban star.
Still, if the Marlins are serious, “and they say they are”, Cespedes will receive a tempting offer from the organization. There will be strong competition for the Marlins to battle, but lets assume they do ink Yoenis. What would he bring to the fish? First of all, he automatically solidifies the nagging and constant center field question the Marlins have been messing with for a number of years. Cameron Maybin refused to grab the spot and Chris Coghlan cannot find a way to stay on the field consistently. Cespedes adds an above-average glove with above-average speed to a position that requires polished talent. I mean lets face it, if you cant play the position, it shows. There has been a number of times when the fish outfielder’s have looked down-right stupid. So defensively we would be set. On to offense.
From his numbers, its obvious Cespedes has the tools to be a great hitter. However, there is still a major difference between Cuban pitching and major league pitching. Yoenis will have to adjust to major speed change, nastier breaking balls, and much added pressure on his offensive performance. To expect Cespedes to mimic his numbers in Cuba would be absurd. Still, he is 26 and more mature than a lot of younger CF prospects and would be a great addition. If signed with the Marlins, I envision Yoenis hitting in the #6 spot adding a powerful and dangerous bat towards the bottom on the line-up. With Mike Stanton and Hanley Ramirez in front of him on base, Cespedes will receive a healthy dose of pitches and should help his RBI numbers.
So why does he make since? He erases the nagging question mark in center field, brings an exciting and explosive bat to Miami, and also brings another Cuban hero to an area that needs one the most. Again, I cannot predict the future, but I am confident in saying Yoenis Cespedes has the potential to be a great player in the majors. He is young, skilled, and seems to have a good head on his shoulders. Personally, I feel like the Marlins should take the risk and ink Cespedes as soon as he is declared a free agent. This is a perfect example of a “high risk, high reward” scenario, but every now and then you have to roll the dice!
Remember, I love feedback and opinions! Feel free to comment below or talk to me on twitter, @WillStanifer. Go Marlins!