When the White Sox signed Yoelqui Cespedes for $ 2.05 million in January, some club officials pointed out that the Cuban (now 24) was not far behind the majors. But the outfielder also went two years without playing official games after defecting from Cuba, and visa complications limited him to 72 minor league games this summer.
Thus, Cespedes was an obvious candidate for more at-bats in the Arizona Fall League.
“I’m very happy,” said Céspedes, the Patipálidos’ No. 2 prospect. “Because I feel like it’s one step closer to being in the Major Leagues.”
Half brother of gunner Yoenis Céspedes, Yoelqui debuted in the Cuban National Series in 2005 at the age of 17 and was a member of the Cuban team for the World Baseball Classic two years later. The right-handed ranger defected while playing for the Cuban national team in the Canadian-American Association, an independent league, in June 2019 and was eligible to sign with a major league team in March 2020. He opted to wait until the next signing period. so that he could join the White Sox, which has a core of Cuban stars, among which are José Abreu, Yasmani Grandal, Yoán Moncada and Luis Robert.
Cespedes’ strength and bat speed combine to generate above-average power, though some international scouts wondered if it would pay off against more advanced pitching. The Cuban can be too aggressive at bat at times and his right swing sometimes gets too long with the upward swing. In fact, Céspedes had a line of just .287 / .351 / .415 in four seasons in Cuba and only hit .253 / .343 / .316 in 27 games over two years in the Can-Am League.
Nonetheless, Céspedes surrendered in his professional debut, hitting .285 / .350 / .463 with eight homers and 18 stolen bases in 72 games between Class-A High and Double-A. The Yara native said the biggest adjustment other than playing daily again is the quality of the hitting he has faced.
“In Cuba, the speed was not the speed you have here in the United States,” said Céspedes, who was 3-for-18 with a double and steal in his first week with the Glendale Desert Dogs. “It was a big adjustment and another step for me. The speed and roughness of the breaking pitches were the two main adjustments I had to make. “
Céspedes possesses other attractive tools beyond his power. He has shown good speed when running in a straight line and could stay in center field, although if he was quick he might be considered average later on. It also boasts one of the strongest arms on the Chicago estate.
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