Jorge Ona, a 19-year-old outfielder from Cuba, has left the island to chase an MLB contract, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. Despite not much playing time in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, Ona still ranked sixth on Baseball America’s list of the top 20 prospects still in Cuba (as of April) due to strong performances for the Cuba junior national leagues and in international tournaments.
Ona is a 6’2″, 192-pound right-handed hitter with “a quick, compact swing from the right side, plus raw power and a strong arm in right field.” In a longer scouting report within that top-20 prospects piece (open to BA subscribers), Badler noted that Ona showed good athleticism in as a fielder and “showed a good approach [at the plate] for his age,” though “gauging plate discipline and pitch recognition can be difficult in a brief look.” Badler projected Ona would be a first-round draft pick if he were eligible for the North American draft.
Ona’s lack of Serie Nacional experience and his age will make him subject to international draft pools, and since he was born after Sept. 1, 1995, he would have had to have registered by last May 15 to be eligible for the current international prospect class. Ona therefore won’t be eligible to be signed until July 2, 2016, and since he’ll surely command more than a $300K bonus, that will eliminate a number of teams from his market. The Angels, Blue Jays, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are all prohibited from spending more than $300K on any one player in the 2016-17 international signing period due to exceeding their spending pools in either of the last two signing periods.