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How good does Yoenis Cespedes project to be in the majors?

Jan 12, 2012, 1:48 PM EDT

Yoenis Cespedes AP AP

Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes is establishing residency in the Dominican Republic so that he can become a free agent and sign with an MLB team for what many people are speculating could be close to $50 million, but how good does the 26-year-old outfielder figure to be in America?

Projecting prospects based on minor-league numbers is tough enough, but projections based on performances in Cuba are even more difficult because the level of competition isn’t as well defined and there aren’t many previous examples of players going from Cuba to America.

With that caveat out of the way, Clay Davenport of Baseball Prospectus crunched the numbers to see what type of MLB hitter Cespedes will be and projects him as having 25-homer power with batting averages around .250 and poor strikeout-to-walk ratios

Davenport’s lengthy analysis is definitely worth reading, so I won’t spoil the whole thing, but based on the numbers in Cuba he sees Cespedes as being similar to Adam Jones of the Orioles. In other words very good but not quite great, and there are also questions about whether Cespedes can handle center field defensively long term.

  1. alexo0 - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    I heard someone speculate that Cespedes, a freakishly good athlete, might have been on the juice in Cuba and that his performance might end up suffering once he arrives in America. I realize there’s a lot of “might” in that sentence.

    • mox19380 - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:53 PM

      I definitely would imagine that the possibility of players who were juicing while playing in Cuba is fairly likely…although it seems like it would be hard for a Cuban player to obtain quality stuff without some sort of agent working on his behalf.

    • Loren - Jan 12, 2012 at 3:12 PM

      I wonder what sort of testing they do for the WBC? Cubans are so big into the international events like the Olympics and the WBC that I’d think PEDs would not be rampant amongst the elite players.

    • somekat - Jan 12, 2012 at 3:24 PM

      Hasn’t he been on the Cuban national team several times? If so, anything that is going to show up on a MLB drug test, would of showed up on the international tests (IOC standards). I’m not saying he is clean, but I’d be willing to accept that he is easier than most MLB guys

  2. theonlynolan - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Calling Adam Jones very good might be a bit generous.

    • paperlions - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:53 PM

      Yeah, Jones is pretty much an average ML player, which is fine, but nothing approaching very good. From a comparison perspective, Jone had the advantage of going level-to-level during his development, Cespedes has not been given the opportunity to develop against better than A ball competition…which will likely (but not necessarily) make his transition to the majors a bumpy one.

      I look forward to seeing how his career pans out….hopefully, better than Chapman’s first two years.

  3. cur68 - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Jose Abreu, if you are reading this, get in contact with Alex Anthopolous NOW!

    • protius - Jan 12, 2012 at 7:53 PM

      Rah, rah, rah, sis, boom bah…go team go.

  4. mox19380 - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Just based on the pictures it looks liek the guy is too muscular (or is that flab?) to play the outfield for any extended period of time. He may start in CF, get moved to RF, and then eventually 1b or DH but he doesn’t (physically) look like a pure OF

    • wlschneider09 - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      Bo Jackson disagrees with you.

  5. zs123 - Jan 12, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Adam Jones was actually a below average starting CF last year — in 2011 he was 13th out of 21 qualifying center fielders with 2.9 WAR. For the sake of comparison, Cameron Maybin was a 4.7 WAR player and Melky Cabrera was a 4.2 WAR player.

    For $50 million you better get more production than that.

    • mgflolox - Jan 12, 2012 at 7:52 PM

      Yeah, I’m having a hard time seeing what all the fuss is about. If he was 20-21 years old he might have some serious upside. Right now, he just looks like a 26 year old who’s dominated the California League, and those guys ain’t worth no $50 million.

  6. kcfanatic - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    No matter what anyone says about him, dud has a great video out

  7. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 12, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    He projects to be a letdown, no matter what. He’s selling himself like he can hit like Mays and run like Henderson.

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