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Yoenis Cespedes: Keeper League Owners Take Notice

Yesterday morning, while getting ready for work, I was checking out some baseball sites. Included in that rotation are Fake Teams, Razzball, MLB Trade Rumors, Baseball Prospectus, among others. I usually just check headlines, but the Kevin Goldstein article over at Baseball Prospectus caught my attention, as do all of his Future Shock articles. I am always looking for updates on some of the top prospects in the game, and Goldstein usually posts something worth reading on Monday mornings.

So, his article, titled Future Shock - Yoenis Cespedes: The Showcase, was a lengthy one with video, on Cuban outfield prospect Yoenis Cespedes. He starts the article describing Cespedes as follows:

......Yeonis Cespedes, a 26-year-old outfielder who is currently in the Dominican looking to sign with a big league team. His resume from Cuba is significant as he hit .333 during the 2010-11 campaign while joining Jose Abreu in establishing a new league record with 33 home runs. He's a tremendous talent—arguably the best all-around player to come out of Cuba in a generation.

Lofty praise for a 26 year old prospect who has not played in the minors yet. If I calculated correctly, he has hit 145 HRs in 6 seasons in Cuba.

The Baseball-Reference Bullpen report on Cespedes career after the jump:

The video said he ran a 6.3 second 60 yard dash, but the Bullpen report does not mention that he steals a lot of bases, but he has power. Here are a few snippets from the past 3 seasons:

Céspedes batted .323/.411/.601 in 2008-2009 with 24 homers and 83 runs in 87 games. He tied Leonys Martín for 4th in the league in runs and tiedRolando Meriño for third in home runs (trailing Alfredo Despaigne and Joan Carlos Pedroso). He was 7th in total bases (197), 9th in RBI (76) and 10th in slugging. He made the All-Star outfield alongside Giorvis Duvergel and Despaigne.

Céspedes hit .345/.426/.617 in 2009-2010 with 87 runs and 22 homers in 87 contests. He was third in the league in runs (3 behind leader Yulieski Gourriel), 10th in hits (118), 8th in home runs, 4th in total bases (211, behind Alfredo Despaigne, Gourriel and José Dariel Abreu) and was 9th in slugging. He was not pick as an All-Star outfielder as Despaigne, Cepeda and Bell took the three slots.

Yoennis put up a .333/.424/.667 batting line with 89 runs, 33 home runs and 99 RBI in 90 games in 2010-2011. He led the league in runs (five ahead of Cepeda), tied Abreu for the home run lead (breaking Despaigne's league record by one), tied Cepeda for the most total bases (236), tied Ramon Tamayo for 7th in steals (11 in 14 tries), led in RBI (6 ahead of Abreu) and finished 5th in slugging. He was named the All-Star center fielder, joining Despaigne and Cepeda in the outfield.

But, what makes his stats even more imoressive is that he accomplished them in 90 game seasons. The video does not give you a good idea of what type of baserunner Cespedes is, but he looks older than 26 years of age when trotting around the bases in his home run trot. Maybe it is just me, but even ESPN's Keith Law mentioned that you have to take his age in good faith.

Law goes on to add that Cespedes may have to spend some time in the minors after he is signed:

 Leonys Martin hit .311/.492/.491 (BA/OBP/SLG) in his last full year in Cuba, then dropped to .295/.362/.421 between Double-A and Triple-A here, doing most of the damage in the former. Cespedes is bigger than Martin and much stronger, and has a far more conventional swing -- with a wider, more stable base, although he has a busy lower half. However, he is three years older and might, like Martin, have to spend time in the minors adjusting to better pitching than he saw in Cuba.

As of today, we are hearing all good things about Cespedes based on the video and probably some World Cup games, among other international tournaments. But, we heard yesterday that the Yankees had a private workout with Cespedes, and there will be plenty more workouts with other teams before he is ultimately signed. We will hear positive reports and negative reports, with some glowing and some nitpicking, so fantasy owners in keeper leagues will have to balance the good with the bad, and weigh which way to lean come draft day.

With power down in the major leagues, Cespedes will be a hot commodity this offseason and on draft day. I will be curious to see where the experts rank him, but if you read Goldstein's article, I could see him ranking Cespedes very high.

Minor League Ball's John Sickels wrote up fellow Cuban Leonys Martin back in back in early June and had this to say about him:

The Rangers expect Martin to be ready for the majors within a year, and the early returns from Frisco do nothing to dispute this. He could move up to Triple-A by mid-summer, and a September promotion is possible if the Rangers want to get a look at their big investment before 2012. I would rate him as a solid Grade B prospect right now, with a B+ by the end of the year if he maintains this level of performance.

I can see Sickels giving Cespedes a similar grade once he learns more about him, which should come within the next month or so. I will post updates as I learn of them.