Alfredo Despaigne set the single-season home run record in Cuba’s Serie Nacional with 32 homers in 2008-09, only to have it broken last year when Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Abreu each hit 33 home runs. It may not take long for Despaigne to reclaim his crown.
The Granma outfielder hit his 20th home run of the season today, the latest in a recent homer binge that included two home runs in a game on Sunday and one on Wednesday, and all in just 46 games. Granma has played 47 games of its 90-game schedule so far, so even with some second-half regression there’s a good chance that Despaigne could become Cuba’s newest single-season home run king.
Despaigne, 25, is now hitting .358/.479/.756 with 26 strikeouts and 35 walks (including 11 intentional walks), leading the league in slugging and ranking seventh in OBP entering today’s game. Of course, this is nothing new for Despaigne, who already has two Serie Nacional MVPs after winning the award in back-to-back years in 2008-09 and 2009-10 and being named an all-star last season.
Here are some cool videos of Alfredo Despaigne:
This may be the coolest. Alfredo Despaigne (red t-shirt) and Yoenis Cespedes (blue t-shirt) prepare for the baseball season:
Martin is trying to establish residency in Mexico. He could be ready for the 2011 season. Could.
John Manuel @ BA:
He’s a lefthanded hitter whose best tools are his speed and defense. He’s a plus runner at least, being timed in 4.1 seconds to first base from the left side in Taiwan, and showed strong small-ball skills, with the ability to drag bunt for hits and handle the bat on the hit-and-run. He also played center field and showed at least average range. Martin also hit .326 with 10 home runs in the last Serie Nacional, Cuba’s top-level league, while playing for Villa Clara, and has drawn plenty of walks in Cuba, posting a .311/.492/.491 line in 2008-2009, when he drew 78 bases on balls and ranked second in the league with 17 steals (in a 90-game season).
Leonys Martín became a star in his third season in Cuba in 2007-2008, hitting .398/.497/.564, just behind Yoandy Garlobo for the league lead in average. He tied for second in the league in triples (9) and was 6th in steals (13). He failed to make the post-season All-Star team as Alexei Bell, Alfredo Despaigne and Yoandry Urgelles were picked as the outfielders.
And from Peter Bjarkman:
Cut in the mold of one-time Camagüey star Luis Ulacia (with a dangerous combination of speed and power,) youngster Leonys Martin has developed quickly into the most effective leadoff batter on the entire island. Martin stroked 3 homers in the opening round and added two more in the semis.
“Leonys Martin” @ Google Images
Google translation of Enrique Rojas’ ESPN deportes column (h/t MLBTR):
The Department of U.S. Treasury on Monday granted permission needed Yunieski Maya Cuban pitcher to sign with a Major League club, according to ESPNdeportes.com one of the handles of the player.
Edgar Mercedes, academia “Born To Play” from the Dominican Republic, said Maya was authorized to sign for the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC, for its acronym in English), a Treasury Department agency that ensures that it comply with the provisions of the U.S. embargo against Cuba. “Now you only need to reach an agreement with an organization to be professional,” said Mercedes.
[The embargo against Cuba is down-right stupid. Punishing people for no reason...]
The White Sox were interested in Maya in December, not-interested in January, and interested again in May.
Maybe Kenny wants to trade J.J. Putz?
BTW, here’s my Yuniesky Maya scouting report.
BA’s J.J. Cooper says “none of the scouts we talked to thought [Aroldis] Chapman was 26 and there wasn’t any report anywhere we could find that said anything of the sort.”
Lefthanded pitcher Aroldis Chapman, the hardest thrower for Cuba and its de facto No. 1 starter during the 2009 World Baseball Classic, reportedly has left the Cuban national team (Google translation) in the Netherlands. One veteran international scout has confirmed to BA that Chapman has left the team and is seeking to defect. … He did pitch in the WBC this spring, though, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun and averaging 93 mph in a 44-pitch outing against Japan. He also pitched against Australia in Mexico City, where a scout we talked to this spring saw him and was impressed.
Here’s one scout’s opinion:
“He was unreal in Mexico City and just OK in San Diego. There were rumors heading into Mexico that he wouldn’t be there because they were afraid he would defect, but he was there and was lights out. If you are looking for more than that in a pitcher, you’ll be searching your whole life. He was so much fun to watch. If he’s 21 like he’s listed, the sky’s the limit. You’ve got honestly just one or two tweaks that could be made but he could go straight to the top of a big league rotation. He’s got a great body, definitely has high pockets, absolutely. He’s on top of the hitter, his release has extension, he’s got the ball coming out of there at 100 mph. He’s absolutely electric.”
video of Chapman pitching after the jump