In the last 26 months, three Cuban defectors have signed baseball contracts worth a combined $202 million. Yet, perhaps the best young player in a generation still is on the island.
Lourdes Gourriel Jr., a tall, rangy infielder, has been on the radar of some big league teams since 2010, when he played in the junior world championships as a 16-year-old. In the last season and a half, he has begun to blossom, hitting .314 with 16 home runs and 72 runs batted in over 97 games for Havana's Industriales.
So at 22, he is following the negotiations between Major League Baseball and the Cuban federation with interest since it could make him the first Cuban in nearly 60 years to be able sign a big league contract while still on the island.
"Every player, this is the biggest dream you have," Gourriel said at Havana's Estadio Latinoamericano, his team's home park. "I don't think it's that far away."
Interesting - this would be a huge deal here obviously but a Gourriel leaving Cuba to play baseball in America would be a massive story in Cuba and other countries. Badler ranks him a top 5 player in Cuba now and IIRC he is the youngest in that top 5. That's not really the interesting part so much as sooner rather than later being able to sign Cubans without defection.
Oh and the MLB goes back to the table with the NPB this winter, I think. This may or may not all end up connected somehow.