Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez has drawn “strong interest” from several teams, including the Diamondbacks, Giants, Padres and Yankees, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports. The 21-year-old Lopez held one showcase for scouts earlier this month and will showcase himself again next week in the Dominican Republic.
Lopez is a 6’4″, 190-pound pitcher who has three seasons under his belt for Isla de la Juventud of Cuba’s Serie Nacional. Major League Baseball has declared Lopez a free agent, but the righty still has to receive clearance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury before he can sign with a team.
According to Sanchez, Lopez “throws a cut-fastball, a change, a curve and a slider, but is best known for a fastball that hovers in the 93-to-95 MPH range. His fastball has been clocked at 100 MPH three times since he began working out for teams.”
The Yankees are one of four clubs (the others being the Rays, Red Sox and Angels) who have already exceeded their spending pools for the 2014-15 international signing period, as Sanchez notes. This could make these teams more apt to spend on Lopez since they’re already being penalized anyway, though if Lopez doesn’t receive his clearance by June 15, the quartet will be prohibited from spending more than $300K to sign Lopez or any pool-eligible player for each of the next two international signing periods. If one of the other 26 teams particularly fancies Lopez, of course, they can always exceed their pool limit and accept a penalty themselves.
The D’Backs made a big splash in the international market yesterday by signing Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, while the Padres and Giants were finalists for Tomas’ services. San Francisco and New York were recently listed by Baseball America’s Ben Badler as two of the top contenders for another star Cuban prospect, Yoan Moncada. The Yankees, of course, were by far the most active team of the 2014-15 signing period, making deals with ten of Baseball America’s top 30 international prospects.