Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena has defected from Cuba with the intention of signing with an MLB team.
Badler calls Arruebarruena a “defensive wizard” and because he’s 23 years old with plenty of experience in Cuba his contract won’t count against teams’ international signing limits. In other words, it’ll be a free-for-all.
Scouts told Badler that Arruebarruena might have trouble hitting higher than .220 in the big leagues, but it sounds like he could be viewed by many teams as a starting-caliber shortstop based on defense alone.
Another Cuban shortstop, Alexander Guerrero, recently signed a four-year, $28 million deal with the Dodgers, but he’s likely to play second base in the majors and is viewed as a potential impact hitter.
There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.
The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.
All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.
After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.
Here’s today’s schedule: