RHP Juan Serrano defected from Cuba last year, and today the Cubs signed him. Bruce Levine of ESPN reports that it’s a $250,000 deal, which makes it a minor league thing unless teams are giving out half-season contracts now. The team has yet to confirm, as physicals need to be passed and all of that stuff.
Serrano isn’t a terribly electrifying prospect. He’ supposedly has high-80s/low-90s velocity and a decent breaking ball. This assessment, from Cuban baseball watcher Peter Bjarkman, is pretty withering:
stark truth (known by all close followers of Cuban baseball) is that
Juan Yasser Serrano was a rather mediocre Cuban Leaguer whose 2007-2008
record was a below average 2-7 won-lost mark, further diminished by an
elevated 6.46 ERA and a hefty .312 opponents’ batting average against
his deliveries. And this, while hurling for one of the league’s very
best teams, Villa Clara. Serrano’s three-year lifetime mark entering
the current campaign was 14-16, with a 4.40 ERA for a club that
captured division titles in all three seasons he labored there.
Bjarkman says to ignore all of the hype spewed by Serrano’s agent, Jaime Torres, saying that Torres is known for spreading “outrageous falsehoods” about his clients. I have no idea — maybe people say bad things about Bjarkman too — but those stats were complied in a league where pitchers tend to get huge strike zones, so if they’re accurate Serrano really is no great shakes.
For what it’s worth, Levine says the Cubs will start him out at A or AA. If we ever see him in the majors, I assume it will be in middle relief.