At least one player traveling with the Cuban team in North Carolina this week to play a series against the United States college national team won’t be returning to the island. Cuban outfielder Yadiel Hernandez, who ranked as the No. 16 player in Cuba in April, has left the team in pursuit of a major league contract, Baseball America has learned.
Hernandez, 27, will be exempt from the international bonus pools, though he is still several months away from being cleared to sign. Hernandez, who can play left or right field, doesn’t have one loud tool, but he has been one of the top performers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional in recent years. He has good bat control from the left side, a keen eye at the plate and occasional pop, though his offensive game is about on-base skills over power.
At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Hernandez had started to play a larger role recently on the Cuban national team with so many outfielders leaving the country, including an appearance at the Caribbean Series in February in Puerto Rico. Playing for Matanzas in Serie Nacional this past season, which ended in April, Hernandez batted .369/.509/.535 with seven home runs, 77 walks (13 intentional) and 47 strikeouts in 369 plate appearances. He ranked second in batting average, OBP and walks, ranked fifth in slugging and tied for third in doubles (20).
Hernandez makes five players ranked among Baseball America’s Top 20 Cuban player rankings from April who have left the country. Righthander Norge Ruiz (No. 8), infielder/outfielder Randy Arozarena (No. 9), righthander Yaisel Sierra (No. 13) and outfielder Yusnier Diaz (No. 17) have also left the country to pursue a major league contract. The Cuban national team is currently in Cary, N.C. for a series against the U.S. college national team before it leaves to play in the Pan American Games in Canada in a couple of weeks.
Baseball America subscribers can ready Hernandez’s complete scouting report from April below.