Yet another Cuban ballplayer has departed the island, as 32-year-old outfielder Alexei Bell has left in search of an opportunity in the majors, according to Jorge Ebro of Baseball de Cuba. Bell is preparing for a showcase in two or three weeks, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds.
Bell, a long-time mainstay on the national team, is said to have left Cuba legally. It’s unclear whether that will impact his clearance timeline in any way, but regardless, the first order of business for his representatives at DPX Sports will presumably be to obtain an official declaration of free agency. Bell will not be subject to international bonus restrictions due to his age and long experience in Cuba.
Starring with Santiago in Cuba’s Serie Nacional for many years, Bell compiled a robust .319/.417/.547 batting line in 3,441 career plate appearances. That made him one of the island nation’s most productive hitters. Notably, he has just eight more strikeouts (439) than he does walks (431) in that span, and didn’t end a Cuban campaign with more K’s than walks in a single season after 2008.
As Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote this time last year, however, Bell has shown inconsistency at times with the Cuban national team. He does feature a plus arm and could fit in right field, said Badler.
Bell’s current status and major league prospects remain somewhat unclear, however. He spent the 2015 season with the Capitales of Quebec, in the Canadian-American Association, and the results weren’t all that promising. Over 241 plate appearances, Bell slashed .317/.363/.424 with two home runs (and an uncharacteristic 24:14 K:BB ratio).