Two of the top Cuban players signed in 2012 are having trouble acquiring visas after using documents claiming permanent Haitian residency, according to multiple international sources.
Omar Luis, a 20-year-old Cuban lefty who signed with the Yankees for $4 million on July 1, and Henry Urrutia, a 25-year-old Cuban corner outfielder who signed with the Orioles for $778,500 on July 6, have not yet been able to acquire their visas. Both of them, according to Baseball America's sources, are still stuck in Haiti.
To sign with a major league team, Cuban players must first present either an unblocking license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) or two permanent residency documents from another country. Luis, Urrutia and Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, who signed with the Cubs in June, all presented permanent Haitian residency papers. Soler, who signed a nine-year, $30 million major league contract that included a $6 million signing bonus, was able to acquire his visa this summer and play in the United States. Their agency, Praver Shapiro Sports Management, did not respond to a request for comment.
Industry insiders are not surprised that Luis and Urrutia are having visa trouble. In addition to Haitian documents being notoriously unreliable, the players were well-known to be living and training in the Dominican Republic for several months.
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