Yesterday the Braves signed outfielder and Cuban defector Yasser Gomez. At 30-years old with plenty of international experience, Gomez could move quickly to earn a spot on the Atlanta roster. Here are some highlights from a conversation AJC beat writer Carroll Rogers had with another Cuban defector, Yunel Escobar:
Escobar, 27, said Thursday he has been friends with Gomez since he was 8-years old and roomed with him every year that they both played for the Cuban national team.
"He was the best player on the team," Escobar said through an interpreter. "A lot of talent with a bat."
Gomez [... is] now in the Dominican Republic where he hit .318 in winter ball there this past winter.
Escobar said Gomez told him now, looking back, he wish he had defected sooner.
"If he would have listened to me, he would have been here many years before," said Escobar, who defected from Cuba in 2004 at age 21.
The Braves signed Gomez for $20,000. The club hasn’t yet secured a visa for him to get bacyak to the United States, nor decided where he will play.
Nice move by the Braves. A very low risk signing, but let's not get too excited, especially in light of praise from a friend. Signing for $20,000 is pretty much an indication of what teams think he's worth. It's neat to throw out comparisons like Jacoby Ellsbury, but Yasser is a 30-year old spare parts outfielder with no power and no speed. He also apparently has some bad knees.
My guess is that they'll put him at double or triple-A and see what he can do. In spite of being a no power, no speed guy, he still may be able to hit for a decent average. My guess is that he's a fourth outfielder at best.
After the jump is a video of him at-bat last year in the Dominican Republic.
It's not a very good video, and Yasser comes in about 50 seconds in and takes one swing.