Teams have been informed that Cuban infielder Hector Olivera will have his first open showcase on Jan. 21 and 22 at the Giants’ academy in the Dominican Republic.
It will be the first opportunity for teams to scout Olivera since he left Cuba in September. Even for many international scouts who follow Cuban players across the world, it will be their first time seeing Olivera in person in a few years, so evaluators are eager to get a look at the former star second baseman on the Cuban national team.
In August, Baseball America ranked Olivera as the No. 6 player still in Cuba, a testament to the praise he received from scouts and his high-level performance for Santiago De Cuba in Serie Nacional. Olivera, who turns 30 in April and is around 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, impressed scouts during several international tournaments, including the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and he was the MVP at the 2010 Intercontinental Cup.
After hitting .341/.462/.626 in 264 plate appearances during the 2011-12 season in Serie Nacional, Olivera missed the entire 2012-13 season due to what was reported in the Cuban press as a blood disorder, and he hasn’t played in any international tournaments the last few years. He did return to Serie Nacional last season (2013-14), which ended in April, and he batted .316/.412/.474 in 273 plate appearances, though he spent just 29 games of the 90-game season at second base and spent the majority of his time at DH.
Olivera has obtained residency in Haiti, though he’s not cleared to sign just yet. Major League Baseball still needs to declare him a free agent and he must obtain a specific license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before MLB will allow teams to sign him. Once he’s eligible, he will be exempt from the international bonus pools due to his age and Serie Nacional experience. The Athletics and Padres are among the teams that BA sources have connected to Olivera early in the process.