The younger brother of Yoenis Cespedes, Yoelkis is a name the Detroit Tigers like and could shore up the outfield.
Recently in the Freep, Tom Moore, the director of international operations for the Detroit Tigers, spoke about how Yoelkis Cespedes’ skill set, and experience against strong competition should make him a high target for the next international signing period, which begins on January 15, 2021.
With a compact, muscular frame, the right-handed outfielder, Yoelkis (or Yoelqui) stands at 5-9 and according to Baseball-Reference, he weighs 205 lbs. He is considered the number one international prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He is mainly known to be a line drive type of hitter with a big arm while playing for Alazanes de Gramma in the Cuban National Series. If you are curious about the level of competition of the Cuban National Series, it is similar to low-A minor league or even Double-A at times throughout the league’s history.
In this video, Yoelkis discusses his work ethic, and how much stronger he has gotten while training with his brother, who has given him advice as he reportedly worked on his swing mechanics. (Translated from Spanish) This was from back in March before the pandemic.
Here he is in the CanAm League. I like this breakdown because you can see his swing mechanics. His hands near the side of his head then pause for almost 3 seconds before before he loads up to swing. Again, his swing could have changed recently but just to give you an idea of what Cespedes looks like at the plate. Good barrel action here.
For the Tigers, the question is do they have enough to bonus pool money to sign the 23-year old outfielder with a good pedigree? According to Baseball America ($), Detroit has about $6.4 million to spend in international pool money. The club is thought to be giving $3 million of that pool to Dominican shortstop Cristian Santana, and they’ve also been linked to Abel Bastidas, a shortstop out of Venezuela, and Rainer Castillo, a pitcher out of the Dominican Republic.
That probably leaves Detroit with about $2 million to spend. Yoelkis Cespedes is probably seeking more than that, and unfortunately teams can’t trade for more bonus pool money this year. However, he seems like a worthy investment as an outfielder with upside who can play either corner outfield position