Shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez has departed Cuba with the intent of seeking MLB free agency, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. The 21-year-old took home Rookie of the Year honors in the top division Serie Nacional this year, though as Badler notes that was the subject of some disagreement.
As always, you’ll want to read Badler’s piece for a full breakdown, but the takeaway seems to be that Rodriguez is a whiz with the glove with good speed and a suspect bat. Badler labels the youngster as a polished shortstop whose hand and footwork are outstanding, accompanied by good range and a solid arm.
Offensively, though, it appears that Gonzalez has much development ahead of him. He did swipe 12 bags in 16 tries, so there’s a reasonable expectation that he will add value on the bases. But he slashed only .265/.301/.284 in his 304 plate appearances last year, striking out a reasonable 38 times but taking a free pass in only 11 turns at the dish.
Badler goes on to explain how Gonzalez fits within the evolving rules regarding players from Cuba. Teams will have to use their international spending allocation to sign him, though he will not be subject to the league’s registration policy — which can cause a delay, as Badler explained recently — due to his relatively advanced age for an international prospect. All said, Gonzalez should be able to sign as part of this coming summer’s July 2 period, though he will first have to go through the process of establishing residency in a third country.