Cuban catcher among players in showcase
There could be another free agent catcher hitting the market soon.
On Tuesday, catcher Yenier Bello, right-handed pitcher Rogelio Armenteros, and first baseman Jozzen Cuesta, who are all from Cuba, starred in a showcase in front of several big league scouts at a stadium in Tijuana, Mexico.
Bello, 28, who is represented by Bryce Dixon of the Primo Sports Group, left Cuba for Ecuador earlier this year and later established residency in Mexico. He has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball but cannot enter into an agreement with a club until he has been cleared by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Armenteros and Cuesta, who are represented by the Wasserman Media Group, are also in the process of finalizing their paperwork. There were approximately 20 teams represented at Tuesday’s showcase.
“Bello is chomping at the bit to play Major League Baseball after seeing players in his peer group and guys younger than him make it to the big leagues,” Dixon said. “He’s giving it everything he has to achieve the same level of success as his friends (Yasiel) Puig, (Yoenis) Cespedes and (Aroldis) Chapman have had. He’s really excited because he never thought he would get the chance.”
Bello He hit .274 with 13 home runs in Cuba’s La Serie Nacional, the country’s top amateur league, in 2011. He hit 75 home runs and drove in 297 runs in his last five seasons in Cuba, primarily with Sancti Spíritus.
According to Dixon, Bello was caught attempting to escape from Cuba in 2012, suspended from baseball on the island and had his passport confiscated. The catcher soon retired and eventually had his passport returned to him. Bello departed for Ecuador last spring and never returned.
“If you look at the crop of catchers available now, he skews toward the younger end, even at 28,” Dixon said. “He’s been training really hard for this.”
Free agents Brian McCann, A.J. Pierzynski, Carlos Ruiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are considered among the top catchers available this winter.