The Orioles aren’t saying much about the two days spent in the Dominican Republic this weekend to scout Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, but here’s what I’ve been able to piece together about his workouts:
Cespedes showed impressive power during a batting practice session. Short-season Single-A Aberdeen right-hander Jose Mota threw about 35 balls to him so the Orioles could watch him hit live pitching.
Also, Cespedes shagged fly balls and threw from center field. However, he chose not to run the 60-yard dash or run from home to first base because it rained earlier and the field wasn’t dry.
The Orioles have been monitoring Cespedes for the last few years. They’ve already gotten plenty of looks at him, including games televised in the Dominican.
The Orioles’ contingent that watched him this weekend, including a private workout on Saturday, included manager Buck Showalter, executive director of international recruiting Fred Ferreira, director of international operations David Stockstill, Dominican-based scout Carlos Bernhardt and new bullpen coach Bill Castro.
Cespedes, 26, defected from Cuba earlier this year and can become a free agent once he sets up a permanent residence. He batted .333 with 33 home runs and 99 RBIs for the Cuban national team during the 2010-2011 season, but whichever team signs him might have to start him at the Double-A or Triple-A level until he adapts to a higher level of competition.
Nobody in the Orioles’ organization is saying whether they’ll attempt to sign Cespedes. It doesn’t help the process to publicly state their level of interest.
The Orioles have recently signed right-handed pitchers from Brazil and Colombia and they’re preparing to scout a few players in Argentina. The international market is definitely open for business.