The Yankees have agreed to sign Cuban lefthander Omar Luis to a minor league contract with a $4 million bonus.
Luis, 19, has a five-pitch mix, stands out for his pitchability and scouts have lauded him for his competitiveness on the international circuit. His fastball ranges from 86-92 mph and touched 93 at a recent workout with solid sink and run. Luis doesn't have a knockout pitch, but he mixes his stuff well, attacks hitters aggressively and throws strikes to all quadrants of the zone, though he does have a head whack when he finishes his delivery. His 73-78 mph curveball flashes average and he'll use it against both lefties and righties, though some scouts prefer his changeup. He'll mix in the occasional slider and cutter as well. Luis is listed at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, and he's a stocky guy who will have to always stay on top of his conditioning.
Though Luis does not have any experience in Cuba's top league, Serie Nacional, he was one of the top pitchers on Cuba's junior and youth national teams in recent years. He earned all-star honors at the 18U World Junior Championship in Thunder Bay, Ont. in 2010, where he threw 137 pitches in a complete-game shutout and struck out 10 batters against Canada. He returned later in the tournament to throw 145 pitches in another complete game to beat Team USA, allowing two runs, 10 hits and two walks with five strikeouts in Cuba's 3-2 victory.
Prior to that, Luis pitched as a 15-year-old in the 16U COPABE Pan American Championships in Mexico in 2008, where he threw eight scoreless innings with three hits, two walks and six strikeouts against Bryce Harper and Team USA, which beat Cuba 3-1 in extra innings.
Given his age and experience level, Luis would likely report as high as low Class A Charleston, though he still must be able to acquire a visa, so it's not certain when Luis will be able to begin his career. Luis, like Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, is represented by Bart Hernandez of Praver Shapiro Sports Management. The group also represents 24-year-old Cuban righthander Armando Rivero, a free agent reliever who will work out for teams on Friday. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com first reported the agreement.
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