A pair of Cuban defectors who reportedly showed up in the United States in January will still have to wait to sign with a major league team.
Major League Baseball ruled in the beginning of August that Adonis Garcia, a 26-year-old outfielder/third baseman, will not be eligible to sign for six months due to fraudulent residency paperwork, according to Kim Ng, MLB's vice president in charge of overseeing the league's international operations.
"On him, the reason for him not being eligible to sign was for the identification papers," Ng said. "He submitted fraudulent papers in trying to establish his residency."
Ng said that Garcia is not technically suspended, a term that the league only uses for players who are under contract. However, the league's decision still means that Garcia won't be able to with any MLB team for another five months. Ng declined to give further details about Garcia's residency documents or the validity of other identifying papers. It's also not clear whether Garcia will be a free agent or subject to the draft.
"At this point, we don't know," Ng said.
Lefthander Onelkis Garcia, who turned 22 last month, "doesn't have an official status right now" because MLB is still investigating his case, Ng said. The lefty is a prospect in higher demand than Adonis Garcia, as he has shown a low-90s fastball that hits the mid-90s while flashing an above-average breaking ball, though his control still needs work.
Garcia was part of a whirlwind episode before the draft in June that sent teams scrambling to figure out how to react. With several team officials saying they were under the impression that Garcia would be a free agent, MLB sent teams a letter 48 hours before the draft saying that Garcia was eligible for the draft. Shortly before the draft began, MLB sent out another announcement, saying Garcia would not be draft eligible.
A third Cuban prospect, outfielder Yoennis Cespedes, also won't be signing any time soon. Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald reported in July that Cespedes had defected to the Dominican Republic. Cespedes, 25, was one of the top hitters in Cuba's Serie Nacional and was the country's starting center fielder in several international tournaments, including the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
"(He's) not in our system, has not applied for anything," Ng said. "He's out there. We have nothing going on with him."
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