Jump to content
Brewer Fanatic

Brewers Sign Highly Regarded Cuban Shortstop

Mass Haas

Brewerfan.net has learned that the Brewers have signed Cuban defector, shortstop Yohannis Perez. The just-turned 24-year-old Perez was signed to a minor league (non-40 man) contract and is expected to debut next spring at no lower than AA.


This has the potential to be a very big signing for the organization. Perez has been compared to fellow defector and current Seattle shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who is coming off a fine rookie season. As you?ll see in the linked articles below, it is pretty exciting to read Rickie Weeks? name as an offensive comparison, but with what would seem to be more contact and less power for Perez. When informed of the signing today, Brewerfan?s Patrick Ebert (colbyjack) told me Perez may just be a darkhorse for the utility infield job out of spring training next year, and that Perez has received a few (probably unfair) comparisons to Omar Vizquel given his slick glove work and contact bat. Regardless, Perez is universally regarded as an excellent defensive shortstop.


Given our announcement, the Brewers will likely follow-up on their own in the coming days. Also, look for the good folks at Baseball America and others to work their sources for more information and to release follow-up stories of their own. There are no bonus money details available regarding the Perez signing, and it?s very, very difficult to estimate what the dollar amount may have been. Betancourt signed a four-year major league contract worth $3.65 million. That?s not the case with Perez, but a bonus of over $1 million is not out of the question, as you?ll read below.


As promised, additional info:


Link to Full Baseball America article from August 7, 2006, selected paragraphs follow:




Cuban Defectors Attract Interest In Dominican

By John Manuel

Contributing: Chris Kline


Agent Jaime Torres represents high-profile Cuban defectors such as Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and White Sox righthander Jose Contreras.


In other words, while he's an agent, not a scout, he does know talent. And he believes he has some future big leaguers among the five Cuban defectors working out in the Dominican Republic.


All five players have been certified by Major League Baseball as free agents, according to Torres. Three of the players--catcher Alexis Fonseca, righthander Serguey Linares and infielder Yunesky Sanchez -- can sign at any time, having cleared the bureaucratic process known as unblocking. Two others, righthander Yuslan Herrera and shortstop Yohannis Perez, have not yet been "unblocked" but should complete the process sooner rather than later.


Torres said his goal for the group is to have them signed to 2007 contracts in time to go to instructional league with major league organizations, or at least in time for them to be placed in a Caribbean winter league.


"I think some of these players could step in right now in the major leagues and play," Torres said. "You talk about Betancourt, and to me, Yohannis Perez is a very similar type of talent, with similar potential.


Two scouts familiar with the players told Baseball America that Herrera was the most impressive of the quintet at a recent workout at the Diamondbacks academy in the Dominican, but that Linares and Perez have attracted the most attention of the group from scouts.


Perez, listed with an Oct. 11, 1982 birthday, has the most significant upside, as one scout said Perez once resembled Rickie Weeks due to his build, strong wrists and quick hands. He hit .271 with 10 home runs in more than 1,200 at-bats in his Serie Nacional career.


However, Perez hasn't played in any kind of league in the last two years since his defection, and has put on weight. Torres said Perez probably was 12-15 pounds heavier than he needed to be, checking in at 192 pounds rather than a desired 180-185. Torres said Perez is working to "have the body he needs to have."


"He ran a 6.6 (seconds over 60 yards) down there but I've seen him run better than a 6.4," said one international scout. "He's shown outstanding tools and instincts in the past, good hands--he can play. But what is he now, when he hasn't played for two years? He didn't see any good pitches to hit in the simulated game they played, so it was hard to say anything about his hitting, plus they used Baum (wood composite) bats.


"All four of them ate some bad shrimp the night before, and Perez was throwing up during the game. It was just hard to tell what he is."


Torres said he's had overtures from several organizations for different players, from the "usual suspects" such as the Mariners, Mets, Red Sox and Yankees but also from other "surprising" organizations. While money obviously is a major factor in where they will sign, Torres said the right fit also is crucial for players in such unique circumstances as Cuban defectors.


"The most money doesn't necessarily make it the best situation," he said. "Herrera could pitch in the major leagues right now, and I think Linares and Perez could make a club out of spring training. It would be good for them to go somewhere where they have that chance. The organization also has to have people who can help them deal with the cultural and other adjustments they have to make."


Here's another interesting link, also from August, from a gentleman working on a year-long research project on the globalization of baseball, text follows:




Today I went to a tryout of four Cuban defectors at the Arizona Diamondbacks´ academy. The scene there was wild. The players´agent told me that at least 26 major-league teams had their scouts in attendance. No idea about the identity of the few teams who weren´t interested, but I was able to pick out reps from the Devil Rays, Yankees, Mets, Giants, Cubs, Mariners, Braves, Indians, Diamondbacks, Reds, Twins, Brewers, and Nationals.


The scouts who came were a bit disappointed to find out that the most interesting player, 23-year-old pitcher Sergei Linares, was suffering from food poisoning. Linares is reported to throw in the high 90s, but he was held out of the simulated game and limited to a side-throwing session.


The other three players are 23 y/o shortstop Yohannis Perez, 23 y/o catcher Alexis Fonesca, and 25 y/o RHP Yoslan Herrera.


Perez, who was also suffering from foid poisoning, is a line-drive hitting shortstop who drew wide praise for his footwork and glove. His bat wasn´t on display too much today, as the raw DSL pitchers he faced nearly hit him five times. He ended up taking a couple of walks on pitches nowhere near the zone and hitting a double in what I saw of the simulated game.


Fonesca displayed solid gap power, going 4-for-4 in the at-bats I witnessed, with 2 doubles and 2 triples. Against better defenders, those triples would have been a double and a single, but his bat definitely drew some interest.


Herrera was nowhere near as hyped as Linares, but seemed to handle himself just fine in the tryout. His fastball was sitting between 90-92, and the DSL Devil Rays, who served as the whipping boys for this exhibition, were helpless against his breaking ball.


The prevailing opinion of the people I spoke with was that Linares and Perez were the best of the group. It?s possible that these players could get bonuses north of $1 million.


In terms of market value, nobody´s really sure how to treat Cuban players yet. In the wake of the Contreras signing, the prevailing wisdom was that the Cuban mystique caused teams to overrate - and overpay - defectors. The Yuniesky Betancourt signing, which turned out to be a huge bargain, changed all that. There hasn´t been a significant Cuban signing since Betancourt came over, and none of the scouts I talked to today had any idea what these players´ price range would be.



It's exciting to think about the added shortstop depth this provides the organization behind J.J. Hardy, not to mention depth which would seem to solidify a Bill Hall position move. Also great to see that the Brewers can indeed be a "player" in these signings when up against the "big boy" organizations.


We'll keep you linked to any updates that other sources provide.


-- Jim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

I'm stunned. The Brewers actually signed a Cuban defector that other teams wanted.....wow.


Outstanding news, no doubt about it, what a break from the past this seems to be!


I hope they've got his age at least somewhat close to accurate, and I look forward to seeing what he can do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not that I think the team needed anymore vindication of it's strategic change to shut down the Domican Academy a few years ago and focus on singing fewer higher quality prospects, but the team has rather consistently put it's money where the mouth was at the time of that particular announcement.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is awesome news. If this guy is a serious threat to win a spot out of Spring Training I think it would just about seal the deal for Bill Hall going to the OF. He sounds like a pretty light hitter. I wonder if he is a Juan Pierre type that people have been clamoring for. I mean, it says he is Rickie Weeks with less power...and Weeks has been pretty much a singles hitter since the first month he was called up. Anyway, this is fantastic news and I look forward to following him in spring training.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cool. I personally like spending high amounts on these players much more than during actual free agency.


If he can defend like Yuniesky can, I'd be fine with him hitting 8th for a long time (if he hits like Betancourt, that is).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about two Yos in the top 10 of the Power 50? Also not to be taken lightly.


They HAVE to be the top two. You get Yoyo at the top of the power 50. Okay I'm done with corny jokes. http://forum.brewerfan.net/images/smilies/laugh.gif


Great signing for the Crew!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Though the signing is exciting, I'm going to temper my expectations of him. The article said he wasn't in a leauge for two years.


He's still behind the likes of Hardy, Weeks, Hall. He just supplies some great depth with upside, from what I gather.


I hope we can hear more about this guy in the near future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who on this coaching staff or team can speak spanish? That is always my hesitation when signing defectors.


Its a very exciting signing - I do not mean to put a negetive spin on it, but it does concern me. Does this guy keep a translator near him?


**I guess we managed with Tomo so we can manage this. I just wonder what the Brewers are doing to make sure this is a success. **

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who on this coaching staff or team can speak spanish? That is always my hesitation when signing defectors.


Bill Castro on the coaching staff, Jose Capellan among the players....maybe there are more, those are off the top of my head.


It's a good point though, I had the same thought....help the guy with the culture shock as much as you can.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the thread that previously covered the top Latin American prospects available this year, I expressed my disappointment in the Brewers not signing any of the top projected prospects that were available. That disappointment was tempered a great deal when they ponied up to sign RJ Seidel, who so far has been a very solid pick/signing, and the signing of Perez has completely wiped away my previous disappointment.


However, while I like this signing, it's important to note that Perez is a glove-first SS with a contact bat. He's not a high-profile SS, lacking in the impact bat that many of his international free agent peers possessed. As Mass Haas noted, I think Perez is a darkhorse to be the Brewers' utility IF to open the '07 season, but I think he has a lot of questions to answer offensively for him to be considered much more than a utility infielder on a team that needs to get average to above average production at every position on the field to be successful.


Again, that isn't to take anything away from Perez, who could be a very valuable member of the team, if not next year, in years to come, even if he does serve a reserve role.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is he really 24 years old? How accurate is that? Could he be younger? Older?


Regardless, great signing! Finally pulled the trigger on a player that other teams wanted. Yay us! If he is 24, I hope Yost gives him a good looksie during spring training.

- - - - - - - - -

P.I.T.C.H. LEAGUE CHAMPION 1989, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2011 (finally won another one)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always thoguht it was more the less developed ((wrong word)) latin countries that had problems with people lieing about age. I mean, if he played on the Cuban team, the way things are traditionally run under a communist..wouldn't htey be pretty sure if his age? Records like that are usually in order.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As Mass Haas noted, I think Perez is a darkhorse to be the Brewers' utility IF to open the '07 season, but I think he has a lot of questions to answer offensively for him to be considered much more than a utility infielder on a team that needs to get average to above average production at every position on the field to be successful.


I would say he's kind of the new Enrique Cruz, would you? Maybe a little more upside.


(Upon review of Cruz's stats, he really struggled this year.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If he can defend like Yuniesky can, I'd be fine with him hitting 8th for a long time (if he hits like Betancourt, that is)


Betancourt out .OPS'd Bobby Crosby by about 80 points there Bretthttp://forum.brewerfan.net/images/smilies/wink.gif


I just hope this is better than when the Brewers signed Takahito Nomura to try to copy the Mariners success.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund
The Brewer Fanatic Caretaker Fund

You all care about this site. The next step is caring for it. We’re asking you to caretake this site so it can remain the premier Brewers community on the internet. Included with caretaking is ad-free browsing of Brewer Fanatic.

  • Create New...