Jorge Ebro at the Nuevo Herald interviewed newly signed Blue Jays prospect Adeiny Hechevarria in Spanish, digging out a few fresh insights concerning both the signing and the 19-year-old Cuban shortstop's potential.
Hechevarria avoids saying directly that the Blue Jays aren't the team of his teenage dreams, but he lets slip that he "played shortstop for Santiago imagining that it was Yankee Stadium." Nevertheless, Ebro notes that Hechevarria turned down an offer from the Yankees in the hopes of rising more quickly to prominence in Toronto's system. The New York Post's George King II wrote three days ago that the Yankees were likely willing to offer similar money to Toronto, and more recently, the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott quoted an unnamed executive as saying that "the word in the scouting community" was that the Yankees' offer was larger Toronto's winning bid of $10MM for four years.
Shortstop for the Blue Jays has been a sorespot in terms of both reliable production and reliable attendance since back when the team was a perpetual contender, as last year's .789 OPS by Marco Scutaro was the highest by a Blue Jays shortstop logging at least 500 PAs since Tony Fernandez in 1987. Over those ensuing years, other AL East teams have built their lineups around the likes of Cal Ripken, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, and Miguel Tejada. Even the Rays have been able to bank on shortstop with more reliability than the Jays, as Tampa Bay's recent history has witnessed the best years of Julio Lugo's career and the arrival of Jason Bartlett.
But what to expect from Hechevarria himself? In the absence of minor league stats and scouting reports, Ebro's sources reach for comparisons. One scout labels him "an Alfonso Soriano who can defend," while another describes him as more polished than last year's highly regarded Cuban shortstop prospect, Jose Iglesias, who will start the season in Double A Portland for the Red Sox. Comparisons between the two prospects are seemingly inevitable, for reasons of age (Iglesias is 20), nationality, contract size, and because Hechevarria got the nod over Iglesias at short for the Cuban team at the World Baseball Junior Championships in 2007.
Elliott at the Toronto Sun quotes an AL executive who calls Hechevarria "a much better player" than Iglesias, while another official from a team who made an offer to Hechevarria labeled him "probably more of a fielder than a hitter" for the time being, albeit one who will be "pretty offensive when it all plays out." Like Iglesias, Hechevarria will likely start out at Double A, notes Dave Perkins at the Toronto Star.
All comparisons with other prospects aside, though, Ebro's article starts out by comparing Hechevarria's potential to the next few years of his idol, Jeter, and writers in New York have noted the comparison as well. Mike Vaccaro at the New York Post most recently wrote that Hechevarria was widely believed to be "earmarked for the Yankees," and that that missing out on Hechevarria shows the team's commitment to an iconic shortstop who "will have to morph from shortstop into either a left fielder or a full time designated hitter" by the end of his next contract—especially if that contract stretches to six years, as Jon Heyman recently posited.
According to some, though, Hechevarria's future isn't even at short. One scout tells Elliott that the prospect's skills will eventually put him in the outfield, while Vaccaro notes that Hechevarria's bat could translate well to second base or center field, just one more reason why the newest Blue Jay "made all the sense in the world" for the Yankees.