South­land Cubans

Los Angeles Times - - INSIDE BASEBALL - —Dy­lan Her­nan­dez

The Dodgers, who have signed five Cuban play­ers, have been among the ma­jor league’s most ag­gres­sive teams in pur­su­ing tal­ent fromthe Caribbean is­land. The An­gels have signed one such player. A look at each of the play­ers un­der the con­trol of lo­cal teams:


Yasiel Puig, 24, out­field: In June 2012, Puig signed a seven-year, $42-mil­lion con­tract with the Dodgers. Puig es­caped to Mexico from Cuba ear­lier that year with the aid of smug­glers con­trolled by a Mex­i­can drug car­tel, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments. He made his ma­jor league de­but in 2013 and his elec­tri­fy­ing style of play in­stantly made him one of the sport’s most pop­u­lar play­ers. Last year, Puig was se­lected to his first All-Star team. He is some­thing of a po­lar­iz­ing fig­ure, as some base­ball purists are both­ered by his on-field ex­u­ber­ance and his pen­chant for mak­ing mis­takes.

Alex Guer­rero, 28, third base-left field:

Guer­rero signed a four-year, $28-mil­lion con­tract with the Dodgers in Oc­to­ber 2013. He said he be­came de­ter­mined to de­fect fromhis home­land ear­lier that year when hewas ex­cluded from Cuba’s World Base­ball Clas­sic ros­ter. He es­caped by boat to Haiti. Guer­rero spent most of last sea­son in the mi­nor leagues, where a piece of his ear was bit­ten off by a team­mate in a dugout fight. He has made sig­nif­i­cant of­fen­sive con­tri­bu­tions to the Dodgers this sea­son, but his de­fen­sive short­com­ings have pre­vented him from se­cur­ing an ev­ery­day po­si­tion.

Eris­bel Ar­rue­bar­rena, 25, short­stop:

A child­hood friend of Puig, Ar­rue­bar­rena de­fected from Cuba in the fall of 2013 af­ter a pre­vi­ous at­tempt failed. He es­tab­lished res­i­dency in Haiti, af­ter which he signed a five-year, $25-mil­lion con­tract with the Dodgers. A de­fen­sive wiz­ard, Ar­rue­bar­rena played in 22 ma­jor leagues games for the Dodgers last sea­son but bat­ted only .195 and­was re­moved fromthe team’s 40man ros­ter over the off-sea­son. At the end of spring train­ing this year, the Dodgers in­structed him to re­main in their ex­tended campin Ari­zona. That didn’t sitwell with the for­mer Cuban na­tional team player, who did not showup for work­outs. Last month, the Dodgers sus­pended him for the re­main­der of the sea­son but itwas re­cently cut to 30 days and he is back in Ari­zona.

Pablo Mil­lan Fer­nan­dez, 25, pitcher:

Fer­nan­dez agreed to a mi­nor league con­tract in March that in­cluded an $8-mil­lion bonus. Fer­nan­dez es­tab­lished res­i­dency in Haiti af­ter his de­fec­tion, but other de­tails of his es­cape from Cuba are un­known. Pri­mary a re­liever in Cuba, he will try to be­come a start­ing pitcher in the United States. He has a slight build— the Dodgers list him at 6 feet 1 and185 pounds— and has an un­ortho­dox de­liv­ery sim­i­lar to Or­lando Her­nan­dez’s. The Dodgers be­lieve he could de­velop into a pitcher sim­i­lar to Yus­meiro Petit of the San Fran­cisco Giants.

Hec­tor Oliv­era, 30, in­fielder: Oliv­era is be­lieved to be the most pol­ished player the Dodgers have signed out of Cuba. Oliv­era, who es­tab­lished res­i­dency in Haiti af­ter his de­fec­tion last fall, fi­nal­ized a con­tract last month that is guar­an­teed for $62.5 mil­lion over six years. The Dodgers are ex­pect­ing Oliv­era to reach the ma­jor leagues this sea­son. An­drew Fried­man, the pres­i­dent of base­ball oper­a­tions, said Oliv­era is ca­pa­ble of hit­ting in the mid­dle of a ma­jor league lineup. Oliv­era played only six games at dou­ble A, af­ter which hewas pro­moted to triple A. Hewas pri­mar­ily a sec­ond base­man in Cuba, but can also play first base and third base.

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