Yasiel Balaguer, who defected from Cuba in November in order to become a free agent and eventually sign with an MLB team, will hold his first workout today for the Marlins, according to Michael Miller of the Miami New Times.
Balaguer’s representatives have been touting the 18-year-old outfielder as an elite prospect and various media outlets have eaten that up, but Baseball America editor-in-chief John Manuel spoke to scouts who described him as having “average tools across the board with one important below-average tool, his bat.”
Jose Iglesias received $8.25 million from the Red Sox and Noel Arguelles received $7 million from the Royals after defecting from Cuba last year, but it sounds like Balaguer is unlikely to approach those marks.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.