Noel Arguelles Was Royals Most Significant Signing This Winter





KANSAS CITY — The Royals' most significant free agent signing this offseason was not catcher Jason Kendall or outfielder Scott Podsednik, but little known lefthander Noel Arguelles.

Arguelles, who turned 20 on Jan. 12, is a Cuban defector with a 91-93 mph fastball that has touched 94. He signed a five-year major league contract for $6.9 million. While the deal was agreed to in principle in December, it was not finalized until January after Arguelles cleared visa issues and passed a physical in Kansas City.

Arguelles reported to the Royals' Surprise, Ariz. complex after signing for strength and conditioning work. He had been throwing for 17 months and the Royals wanted to give him a month off before throwing off the mound.

General manager Dayton Moore said there are no expectations for Arguelles to break camp with the big league club. Arguelles will likely open the season with high Class A Wilmington. The Royals project him as frontline starter and he could be in the Kansas City rotation by 2012.

Arguelles worked out in front of more than 100 scouts, agents and front office executives, including Moore, in the fall in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic.
 
Arguelles' fastball velocity was 89 for one bullpen session because of lack of arm strength, which the Royals will hope to build up prior to spring training.

He defected with shortstop Jose Iglesias, who signed with the Red Sox, in July 2008 while at the World Junior Championships in Edmonton, Canada.

Besides his fastball, Arguelles throws a curveball and changeup, both considered plus pitches. His command needs to get better, but scouts are also enamored by his size, listed at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, and his athleticism.Arguelles pitched for the La Habanana Vaqueros in the Cuban National Series and for the gold medal Cuban team in the 2007 Pan American Junior Championships for 18-and-under players, striking out 11 in eight scoreless innings against Mexico in the title game.
Arguelles becomes the third Cuban-born player on the Royals 40-man roster. The others are shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and catcher Brayan Pena.

ROYALTIES

• The Royals signed lefthander John Parrish, who did not pitch last season after a shoulder injury, to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Parrish is 13-13, 4.54 in 174 big league appearances with the Orioles, Mariners and Blue Jays.

• The Royals signed outfielder Shane Costa, a 2003 second-round pick, to a minor league contract. Costa played only one game last year with Triple-A Omaha because of a lower leg injury. He has a .254/.289/.366 line over 421 at-bats in the major leagues.