On Friday I introduced you to 21-year-old Yoan Lopez, a Cuban pitching prospect who had just been cleared to sign with a Major League team by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury after already having defected from Cuba, establishing residence in Haiti and being declared a free agent by Major League Baseball.
I also reported that he was expected to sign somewhere very soon, although at the time I meant sometime in the next month before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
It was also suspected that he would sign with one of the teams who had already gone over their international spending limit and were already being taxed for doing so, which meant he was most likely to sign with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, or the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels had recently signed another Cuban prospect, infielder Roberto Baldoquin, to a record-setting $8 million signing bonus.
Lopez was also known to have ties with the Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres.
It was the Diamondbacks that won the heart of the young pitcher. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com has reported that Lopez has signed an $8.27 million bonus. The deal, which is pending a physical, will be the largest under the new international guidelines.
He is said to have had an offer of $9 million but decided that the D-Backs were the best fit for him, having been impressed with with chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and general manager Dave Stewart. The word is that he will even be invited to big league spring training this year.
Lopez is a 6’4″, 190-pound flame thrower whose fastball has been known to reach 100 mph. However he has a full aresenal of tools to use as well. He throws a cutter, slider, curveball and changeup alongside his blazing fastball.
The Diamondbacks also signed Cuban Yasmany Tomas earlier this year. So far, besides Tomas who is older, Lopez is the first Cuban prospect to receive an invite to big league spring training. That’s not to say he won’t start the year in the minors, of course, but you might see him playing in the desert soon than you think.