colobrowns on Dodgers Scout.com forum (6/29/16)
Yeah, the Dodgers spent a little bit of money on international free agents last year. They got Yadier Alvarez ($16 million), Yusniel Diaz ($15.5 million), Omar Estevez ($6 million) and Yordan Alvarez ($2 million) from Cuba, plus Starling Heredia ($2.6 million) and Ronny Brito ($2 million) from the Dominican Republic, among others.
They can still sign Cuban players who are exempt from the bonus pools without any restrictions, but for players who fall under the pools, they can’t give anyone more than $300,000. They are in good hands there in their first July 2 under Ismael Cruz, who comes from the Blue Jays after working for the Mets and has one of the best track records in the game. One player the Dodgers have been linked to is Dominican shortstop Albert Suarez, a lefthanded hitter who stands out more for his baseball skills than his raw tools.
1. Yulieski Gourriel, 3b, Industriales
Age: 30. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 196.
Certainty Level: Category 5 (Very High).
Gourriel has been a star in Cuba for more than a decade. He debuted in Serie Nacional as a 17-year-old and winning MVP awards at age 20 and 21 in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. A veteran of the Cuban national team, Gourriel ranked as the No. 1 player in Cuba entering the 2014-15 season in August and retains that top spot thanks to a well-rounded skill set. After a strong summer with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, Gourriel took time off early in the Serie Nacional season when he returned to Cuba. When he was back on the field, he was still one of the most productive players in Serie Nacional.
Gourriel has all the attributes to be an above-average offensive player. He has plus bat speed and squares up all types of pitches with good hand-eye coordination and barrel control. He wraps his barrel behind his head, angling the bat toward the pitcher, but he gets the barrel into the hitting zone quickly and has good plate coverage. He stays within the strike zone and uses the whole field, and with plus raw power on the 20-80 scale, he offers a balance of being able to hit for average, get on base and hit for power.
FORUM THREAD: 2016 mlb draft/international FA 2016 July draft
4. Lourdes Gourriel, ss, Industriales
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 185.
Certainty Level: Category 5 (Very High).
Lourdes Gourriel Sr. was a star in Serie Nacional and the Cuban national team from the mid-70s to the early-90s, then spent time as a manager in Serie Nacional and coach on the Cuban national team. Gourriel has three sons, with middle brother Yulieski the No. 1 player in Cuba, and now the youngest brother, Lourdes Jr., emerging as one of the league’s premier talents. There has been talk about Lourdes Jr. for years, as he hit .308/.396/.484 in 107 plate appearances in Cuba’s 18U national league in 2010 and teamed with Jorge Soler at the 18U World Championship in Canada in 2010. Gourriel’s performance is now starting to match his potential after a breakout 2014-15 season, though scouts haven’t been able to get many in-person looks since he played sparingly at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Mexico in November and didn’t play at all during the Caribbean Series in Puerto Rico in February. He missed some time during the second half of the season due to injury, reportedly to his right hand.
Gourriel is a smart hitter with a chance to get on base at a high clip and drive the ball for power. He improved his balance at the plate this past season, keeping his hands inside the ball well for someone with his long arms with a fluid swing. Gourriel has plenty of bat speed to catch up to good fastballs and the plate coverage to make frequent contact. He can have trouble at times against slow breaking balls, but he has good strike-zone discipline and a patient approach, giving him a chance to be a plus hitter with a high OBP. Gourriel flashes above-average raw power with the swing path to generate backspin and leverage the ball for loft in games, making him a 20-homer threat.
While he’s spent time at third base and in left field, Gourriel emerged this past season as the everyday Industriales shortstop, giving the team an all Gourriel left side of the infield. Gourriel’s athleticism and impressive body control for his size allow him to handle the position in Serie Nacional. He’s an average runner, gets good reads off the bat and has a plus arm. Gourriel has good infield actions but was the most error-prone shortstop in Cuba this past season, which should improve with better decision-making on throws. His range is fringy for a major league shortstop, and as he fills out his frame, he would likely fit better in the big leagues at third base, where he could be a plus defender.
Though he’s not quite as advanced right now as Jose Fernandez, who is one spot ahead of him on this list, Gourriel’s power and defense give him more upside. Gourriel’s game is comparable to a young Ryan Zimmerman, a three-year starting shortstop in college at Virginia. While he’s not major league ready quite yet, he isn’t far off, and could likely handle a Double-A or possibly a Triple-A assignment. Presuming he stays in Cuba, Gourriel should carry a more prominent role on the national team going forward, possibly as the team’s shortstop, though he could play multiple positions for that club. Since Gourriel debuted in Serie Nacional as a 16-year-old, he already has five seasons of experience, which means he will be exempt from the bonus pools when he turns 23 on Oct. 19, 2016.