Yoenis Cespedes played in Cuba’s top league since 2004 and developed into one of the top hitters in Serie Nacional before he defected last summer.
His baseball skills are no mystery to teams that have done their homework on him, but for most fans, exposure has been limited. Getting to see all of his at-bats streamed live online for the Aguilas in the Dominican League playoffs has been a huge plus, and many U.S.-based scouts have been following along. That's over for now, however, as the Aguilas announced that Cespedes won't play again this year. He had been struggling, hitting .143/.167/.257 in 35 at-bats with a hit by pitch, no walks, 10 strikeouts and this home run.
Luckily we were able to track down some great video from someone who posted four at-bats of Cespedes playing for Granma, his team in Cuba. In the video, Cespedes is the hitter in the first three at-bats, after which a double from Leslie Anderson (Rays) of Camaguey and Yoelvis Fiss of Ciego de Avila are spliced in between one final at-bat from Cespedes. I’m not much for spoilers (I always like to go in fresh), but I don’t think anyone should be surprised that these aren’t clips of him rolling over grounders to the shortstop.
The YouTube feed has some other great clips of Cubans, including Leonys Martin facing Aroldis Chapman, at-bats from Yulieski Gourriel and Alfredo Despaigne, an 18-year-old Kendrys Morales homering and the Cuban team facing Rangers righthander Yu Darvish in the 2008 Olympics, among other highlights. I would definitely recommend perusing when you have the time.
I can also assure you that the savvier teams have access to far more robust video libraries of Cuban baseball in their possession. But for those on the outside, here’s a peek at Cespedes from his days in Cuba.