(670 The Score) The White Sox on Friday officially added 23-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoelqui Cespedes as the international signing period opened. The younger brother of former MLB slugger Yoenis Cespedes, Yoelqui was the top-ranked international prospect by MLB Pipeline.
On Monday morning, MLB Pipeline writer/analyst Jim Callis joined the Mully & Haugh Show to discuss Cespedes, whom he called “probably the most big league-ready of this international crop.” So when might Cespedes be ready to ascend to the big leagues?
That’s unclear, Callis said, because he’s had so few at-bats against high-level professional pitching. Callis indicated Cespedes is more likely to be a factor in 2022 than in 2021.
“With the Cubans, it’s a little difficult,” Callis said of projecting a timeline. “Because the pitching on the island is not very good. So while he played well in Cuba, it’s not really close to pro-level pitching. He was in an independent league in 2019 before he defected, but he had all of 18 at-bats. You can’t read much into that. But no, he’s interesting. He’s not a big guy, about 5-foot-9, but he’s super strong. He’s a power-over-hit guy. He can really run. He’s got a right field arm. He can probably play center. He’s got a lot of tools. It will be interesting with everything that went on last year and as talented as the White Sox are, I guess I’d be a little surprised if he made a huge impact in the big leagues this year, because they’ve got a pretty strong team. But we’ll see. If he hits, he should move (up the system) pretty quickly.”
Cespedes isn’t the only touted Cuban prospect who has been connected to the White Sox in recent weeks and months. Oscar Colas, a 22-year-old outfielder and pitcher who has been compared to Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, was declared a free agent back in December. With the international signing period open, he’s free to join any MLB team.
Across the MLB landscape, the White Sox are viewed as one of the front-runners to land Colas, Callis said – but it might be a while before Colas signs, whether that’s with Chicago or another organization.
“It’s no secret, the White Sox, they’re the destination team for Cubans – with (Jose) Abreu and (Yoan) Moncada and (Luis) Robert and they just signed Cespedes,” Callis said.
“The thing is with Colas, I believe the thinking is the White Sox may be the front-runners for Colas too, but you have these international bonus pools (of money). And they spent pretty much – I don’t have the exact figures in front of me – but most of their bonus pool. Cespedes, for a guy as celebrated as he is, signed for just over $2 million. And the pool is worth around $5 million per team. It varies a little bit depending on where you finish and market size and all that. But Colas – the Cuban Ohtani, you know a big power hitter, he’s got a chance for solid or better tools across the board and can also pitch. He is a free agent. If he were to sign with the White Sox now, I don’t even know if they have $1 million left in their pool. It would be for far less than you would think he would get. Again, this kind of stuff is fluid. Maybe somebody else comes in and kind of blows him away with an offer. But it sounds like he might be another one of these Cubans headed to the White Sox. But if that happens, I think he would sign in the next signing period, which would be next January 15. But then it’s tricky, because he’s already 22. I think there’s some uncertainty where he goes, but it seems like the White Sox are in there and may be the leaders. But if they do sign him, I think it would be a year from now because they just wouldn’t be able to pay him.”