Two of Cuba’s top players reportedly defect to pursue MLB career
By Shawn Ramsey @ShawnPRamsey
Feb 8, 2016 at 1:28p ET
Two of Cuba’s top baseball players are believed to have defected from
Cuba to pursue a career in Major League Baseball.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., 22, and Yulieski Gurriel, 31, who are brothers,
defected from Cuba’s Ciego de Avila team following the Caribbean Series
that concluded Sunday, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez — first
reported by Miami’s El Nuevo Herald.
Lourdes is considered Cuba’s top prospect, while his brother Yulieski is
considered the island nation’s top player. Both have repeatedly
expressed a desire to legally leave the country with permission from the
Cuban government with tensions easing between them and the United States.
Yulieski was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 1 player remaining in
Cuba. As one of the nation’s most decorated players, he was an Olympian
in 2004 and has represented Cuba in all three World Baseball Classic
tournaments. He has been part of Cuban championship teams at the Pan
American Games, Central American Games, World Baseball Championships,
International Cup and Caribbean Series. He is considered major-league
ready, and possibly could find a spot on a MLB roster this season.
Playing mostly third base, he has been a career .333/.414/.577 hitter
during his professional career.
Yulieski was recently allowed by the Cuban government to play in Nippon
Professional Baseball batting .305/.349/.536 with 11 home runs in 62
games for the Yokohama Bay Stars.
Lourdes, the younger of the two brothers, could face more obstacles
before finding himself on a major-league roster due to his age. Should
he sign before his 23rd birthday, he would be subject to international
bonus pools, limiting which teams could sign him. After Oct. 19, he
would be free to sign with any club he chooses. During his short career
thus far, Lourdes has batted .269/.355/.414 in 1036 Serie Nacional plate
appearances. His numbers have steadily increased every year of his
The brothers come from a family of famous professional Cuban baseball
players. Their oldest brother, Yunieski, 33, has won two MVP Awards in
16 seasons with Serie Nacional, and has spent the past two seasons
playing for Quebec in the Canadian-American Association. The brothers’
father, Lourdes Gurriel Sr., played for the Cuban national team for 15
years, winning a gold medal, two batting titles and an MVP award. More
recently, he was a national team manager.
While the MLB will eventually be getting two top talents in the majors
with the players defecting, both players will need to establish
residency in a new country then be declared a free agent by MLB before
any clubs and officially attempt to sign them. There is no specific
amount of time the process can take, as each case presents a difference
Source: Two of Cuba’s top players reportedly defect to pursue MLB career
| FOX Sports –