Top international prospect Yoan Moncada has arrived in the United States and is staying in Florida, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel reported on Tuesday this week (Twitter link). The Cuban phenom has yet to be cleared by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, however, meaning he’s not yet eligible to sign (Major League Baseball has cleared him already, so he has half the clearance he needs).
As has been previously reported, the circumstances of Moncada’s defection from Cuba are mystifying, to say the least. The 19-year-old Moncada was allowed to leave the country legally and proceeded to establish residence in Guatemala. He’s being represented by a CPA from St. Petersburg that has never repped a professional athlete of any kind.
In an interview with Jorge Arangure of Vice Sports, Moncada’s agent, David Hastings, discussed his client. Hastings explains that Moncada was able to live in Guatemala with relative anonymity for months, but once reports indicated that he was now in that country, a showcase had to be hosted as soon as possible and armed security guards hired for protection. “Since that time,” said Hastings, “we’ve basically have had him sequestered, voluntarily, since it’s not the best place for anyone that’s potentially worth that much money to walk around.” The goal, Hastings continued, was for Moncada’s Guatemalan residency to remain under the radar while his client applied for a U.S. work visa, after which a showcase would be held in the U.S. without safety concerns.
Moncada drew 70-100 scouts at his showcase in Guatemala, with every club being represented and some sending as many as six people to watch. Hastings goes into more detail on the previously reported incident in which two Scott Boras employees were escorted away from the showcase by armed guards. He tells Arangure that he doesn’t feel he needs assistance from a more experienced sports agent in representing Moncada (though one NL exec told Arangure he thinks Moncada’s handlers are “naive”).
It’s still unknown when Moncada will be cleared to sign, and the date of that clearance does carry weight; if he’s cleared before June 15, he’ll be a free agent in the 2014-15 signing period, making the Cubs and Rangers ineligible to sign him (each incurred maximum penalties in the 2013-14 signing period). If he’s not declared until after that date, he’ll be a 2015-16 free agent, meaning the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays won’t be able to sign him due to penalties from the current signing period.