White Sox director of player development Buddy Bell recently told reporters he envisions the first few years of Cuban prospect Dayan Viciedo's career panning out like those of another former defector fresh off of a breakout season, Angels first baseman Kendry Morales. Viciedo may be taking the comparison to heart, as not only has he been taking grounders at first during spring training, he has also changed agents from Jaime Torres to Scott Boras, writes ESPN's Jorge Arangure, Jr.
If Viciedo switched permanently from third to first, he would immediately become the team's top prospect at the position just as Paul Konerko enters the final season of his five-year, $60MM post-World Series contract. The question is whether the move is more than just a preseason experiment. Arangure passes along an unenthusiastic quote from the player through his translator: "My position is third base. But I'll play wherever they tell me." Viciedo seemed more upbeat when he spoke in Spanish with the Nuevo Herald's Luis Rangel:
"Although I haven't played much in that position, I'd feel fine if the change eventually materialized. I don't think I'll have problems. If they ultimately ask me to play as a starter, I'll do it."
Viciedo has yet to see Triple A action for the White Sox, and his .280/.317/.391 line at Double A Birmingham last season wasn't first base heir-apparent material. A .313/.350/.464 second half looked more promising, though still well below the power numbers Morales showed at all levels of the Angels system. And though Viciedo's defense at third base didn't garner rave reviews, trainer Jesus Gallo tells Aragure that his off-season work was geared specifically toward slimming down the bulky prospect and making him lighter on his feet in preparation of a move to first.
While Viciedo isn't the first Cuban player this offseason to jettison the agent who worked with him from defection through signing, his choice of Boras may ultimately send a more powerful message to other prospects than, say, Aroldis Chapman's switch to Hendricks Sports Management or Morales' move from Hendricks to Boras. Viciedo, according to some Cuban baseball experts, wasn't viewed on the island as a top-level talent like Chapman, and the $10MM contract he signed in 2008 caused many other Cuban players to seriously ponder their potential value for the first time.