More International Interest

Twins scouts were in Mexico yesterday, according to Darren Wolfson, to see Cuban prospects Aledmys Diaz and Dariel Alvarez.  Diaz, a 22 year old shortstop, is “known for his ability to hit for power and average”, and “is considered an average runner with an above-average arm” writes Jesse Sanchez of  Sanchez says Alvarez can play all three outfield positions and owns an above-average arm.  There’s no word yet on how the two prospects looked, but the Twins history of international scouting and signing makes this significant.  Most recently they have brought in players like Miguel Sano, Liam Hendriks, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Luke Hughes, and Oswaldo Arcia.

Zoilo Versalles, 1965

The 1965 AL Champion Twins roster included four players hailing from Cuba: Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles, Camilo Pascual, and Sandy Valdespino.  There are currently 24 players from Cuba in the big leagues, the biggest names being Alexei Ramirez, Yunel Escobar, Aroldis Chapman, Yuniesky Betancourt, and last season’s runner-up Rookie of the Year Yoenis Cespedes.

The Twins have somewhat of a need at both the shortstop and outfield positions right now, especially with the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere this winter.  However, Diaz projects to be the most major league ready of the two prospects, while outfielder Alvarez would debut in another year or two.  Knowing Aaron Hicks improved last season to the point where he is only a year or less away, and prospects like Byron Buxton and Arcia fill future needs; I doubt the Twins showed as much interest in Alvarez as they did Diaz.  With the lack of depth in the middle infield right now, Diaz would fill a much bigger need as a long term solution up the middle.

With a suspected $10M to $15M left in the budget, we assume the Twins are still in the market for one more starting pitcher.  Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, and Vance Worley will definitely help shore up a rotation that includes Scott Diamond, possibly Brian Duensing, and a hopeful debut of Kyle Gibson.  Although more intriguing than the 2012 rotation, Pelfrey and Gibson’s health remain a concern.  Correia’s ability to pitch in the American League is an unknown as well.  We should see in the next few weeks one more signing to add a little extra depth to the staff, so how much cash that would leave to sign a shortstop like Diaz or another middle infielder of value is a mystery.

If scouts liked what they saw yesterday, the addition of a player like Diaz sure would be interesting.  As I’ve talked about before, a roster that features Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, Jamey Carroll, and Eduardo Escobar as the only real options up the middle isn’t too promising from what we’ve seen.  The farm system includes few prospects that could be part the future for the Twins.  Eddie Rosario had a solid season in Single A ball last season as a 20-year old playing second base.  Daniel Santana is the potential shortstop of the future, but he played last season at age 21 in High A Fort Myers.  Both are more than likely another year or two away at the very least.

If the Twins front office truly is serious about not giving up on 2013, a splash signing like Diaz – again, assuming he’s a solid player – sure would give Twins fans a little more confidence and hope for 2013 and beyond.  There’s never a guarantee with any prospect, and international prospects are even more of a high risk/high reward opportunity.  Who knows how much of a chance the Twins have of signing Diaz, and who knows how that would even turn out?  For every Zoilo Versalles, there’s and handful of less than successful players like George Lauzerique.

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