Chicago White Sox 2020-21 International Signing Preview
This is part of Ben Badler's 2020-21 international signing day preview. You can also find his international big board of 2020 prospects here.
You can always count on the White Sox to be involved when Cuban players pop up. They have had huge successes, including Jose Abreu and Luis Robert, and their top bonus last in 2019 went to Cuban shortstop Yolbert Sanchez, who signed for $2.5 million.
For the 2020-21 international signing period that opens on Jan. 15, 2021, unlike most other clubs, the White Sox weren't tied early on to players that would take up most of their bonus pool space. At first their top signing looked to be 20-year-old Cuban righthander Norge Vera, whose $1.5 million bonus will probably be the top amount for a pitcher in the 2020-21 class. He's 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, with a fastball that has been sitting 90-94 mph at showcases, touching 96 with projection to throw harder, along with a slider that's ahead of his changeup.
So with more flexibility in their pool relative to other clubs, the White Sox now are expected to sign Cuban outfielder Yoelki Cespedes—the 23-year-old brother of Yoenis Cespedes—for around $2 million on Jan. 15. Cespedes isn't that tall, but he has a strong, athletic build (5-foot-9, 205-pounds) and a quick bat. He played in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and hit .319/.355/.389 with two walks and 18 strikeouts in 77 plate apperances as a 21-year-old during his final season in Cuba's Serie Nacional in the 2018-19 season. The year before he batted .273/.353/.400 in 289 plate appearances with 17 strikeouts and 42 walks.
As for Cuban outfielder Oscar Colas, the White Sox have a $5,348,100 bonus pool. Since MLB changed the rules this year, teams are no longer allowed to trade bonus pool space, so the White Sox can’t go any higher. Between Cespedes, Vera and the other prospects linked to the White Sox below, those players would take up just about all of the club’s allotted pool space. That’s the situation just about every team is in at the moment, which is why several Cuban players have recently been waiting an extra year for new bonus pools to start before they officially sign. So while Colas still is available, it’s possible he might wait until the 2021-22 period starts (most likely moved back to Jan. 15, 2022) to sign with an MLB club.
The White Sox under special assistant Marco Paddy also have typically gone after power bats, something that should continue in 2020-21. They're expected to sign Victor Quezada, a physical infielder with big raw power from the right side. Quezada has worked out at shortstop but should quickly slide over to third base, with a bonus likely around the $500,000 mark. He trains with Ray Castillo, who also had Sanchez before he signed.
Notable Venezuelan players the White Sox are expected to sign include catcher Manuel Guariman, outfielder Dario Barrero and Adrian Gil, a 5-foot-10 righthander who has touched the low-90s.