Dayan Viciedo, the Cuban teenager who left the island in May seeking to become a free agent, has gotten what he wanted. His agent, Jaime Torres, said Saturday that Major League Baseball has declared Viciedo a free agent, and that major league clubs already are in hot pursuit.
The White Sox, who signed Torres’ client Alexei Ramirez last offseason, already have made an offer, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Torres said he’d received one other offer by Saturday morning and has scheduled two workouts in the Dominican Republic to further showcase his 19-year-old client this week.
When Viciedo first arrived in Miami in late May, Torres kept his arrival under wraps briefly, then announced in June that Viciedo had been in the U.S. and passed through the draft without being selected, making him a free agent. MLB wasn’t buying that argument, but even though Viciedo had been in the U.S., Torres was able to establish his residency in a third country, the D.R. Now he’s also gone through the unblocking process and is free to sign.
Torres said two other talented Cubans he represents, junior team defectors Noel Arguellez, a lefthander, and Jose Iglesias, a shortstop, are still going through "paperwork" to establish third-country residency and go through the "unblocking" process, a procedure aimed at preventing Cubans from funneling money back to Raoul Castro’s government.
Here’s our original scouting report on Viciedo:
Born in March 1989, Viciedo is listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, but reports are that he was bigger than that last year at the World Junior Championship in Mexico. Viciedo has excellent power and hitting ability, however, with one scout comparing him to Giants prospect Angel Villalona. He slugged over .500 two of the last three seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, its top-level league, hitting 14 homers in 2005-2006—as a 16-year-old—in his best season.
"His body could go the same route as Livan Hernandez, and when I saw him in Mexico, he wasn’t very good at third base anymore," one international scouting director said. "But he can really hit; in fact, I think he’s probably a better hitter than Villalona."
Villalona received a $2.1 million bonus from the Giants in 2006.
Another scout who had seen Viciedo was less enthused about him as a player, pegging him as a first baseman-only hitter with a bad body. "You know everybody liked Kendry Morales," the scout said, referring to the Angels’ Cuban DH/first baseman, "and he had some other tools. But his body’s gone south and he’s pretty much just a DH. So I think it’s premature to get too excited about this guy."
Viciedo burst on the scene as a 15-year-old, when he was MVP of the World Junior Championships. In Serie Nacional in 2005-2006, he made the all-star team while playing for Villa Clara. His Villa Clara manager, former national team star Victor Mesa, told Cuba’s Granma news in 2006 that Viciedo has “a good arm and tremendous power. He’s got excellent technique, but at the same time is surprisingly calm for his young age and very secure in defense.”