Yuliesky Gourriel Rumors
Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune notes that the '06 World Baseball Classic was the coming out party for Kosuke Fukudome and Alexei Ramirez, and gives us a list of players that could be playing for big league contracts in this year's WBC.
Rogers lists Yu Darvish (Japan), Hyun-jin Ryu and Suk Min Yoon (Korea) along with Albertin Chapman, Yuniesky Maya and Yuliesky Gourriel (Cuba) as the players that could be playing for future millions.
Remember how we thought Cuban superstar Yuliesky Gourriel had defected? Not so, according to a couple of sources.
Prensa Latina indicates that Gourriel returned to Cuba on Thursday. And the Westchester Journal News calls the rumor "untrue" (scroll down). Thanks to RotoWire for the tip. Looks like one of the most intriguing free agents is not available, after all.
According to Will Carroll, Cuban third baseman Yuliesky Gourriel has defected. I'll try to relay what I've learned about Gourriel, who is likely to become quite the hot commodity in short order.
Gourriel is approximately 21 years old. At least, that's his reported age. He's a third baseman but has experience at second as well. Last winter he flashed immense power at the baseball World Cup with eight home runs in eleven games; he also performed well in the WBC.
Baseball America indicates that Gourriel would certainly be a first-round pick if he came up through the American system. A scout describes him as "a championship-caliber third baseman in the big leagues." BA likens him to Chipper Jones or Ernie Banks as far as body type and gushes over his bat speed.
Gourriel accomplished his defection via Colombia. That country's Bogota Times said "it appears that his next destination would be the New York Yankees."