The Rangers have agreed to sign 21-year-old Yanio Perez, a third baseman and outfielder from Cuba, for $1.1 million, according to international sources. Perez is subject to the international bonus pools, though the Rangers did not exceed their pool to sign him. Based on his present ability, Perez should be ready for low Class A next year, though that is yet to be determined. Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald first reported the agreement.
At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Perez is a righthanded hitter who did perform well in Cuba’s junior leagues and played on the junior national team three years ago. In his last two seasons in Cuba, however, he didn’t do much to stand out in terms of performance or from a scouting perspective.
Since leaving Cuba, though, some of Perez’s tools have increased considerably. In Cuba, Perez was a 45 runner on the 20-80 scale going home to first and never was a stolen base threat in Serie Nacional. Yet when Perez showcased in Mexico, multiple scouts confirmed that Perez ran the 60-yard dash in a tick under 6.5 seconds, a time that indicates closer to 70 speed underway. Some scouts who watched him in Mexico also gave him above-average raw power. His infield defense was erratic in Cuba, though he could improve with professional instruction to stick at third base, otherwise he would likely go to the outfield.
Perez didn’t do much damage during his two seasons with Artemisa in Serie Nacional, though he was still a teenager. As an 18-year-old in 2013-14, Perez batted .250/.337/.298 in 63 games, then the next season batted .265/.333/.347 in 80 games, with a combined two home runs and three stolen bases in eight attempts over 514 plate appearances. Perez played all over the field during his final season (2014-15), spending most of his time at third base but also getting significant work at second base, right field and first base.
When Perez played in Cuba’s 18U national league in 2013, he was one of the better hitters in his age group. Perez hit .351/.448/.523 in 136 plate appearances, ranking seventh in the league in batting average and second in slugging. He had two home runs, 16 walks (including 11 intentional walks), nine strikeouts and nine stolen bases in 11 attempts while playing primarily third base. He played that position for Cuba’s junior national team later that year at the 18U World Cup in Taiwan. At that tournament, Perez batted .267/.333/.300 with three walks and six strikeouts in 33 plate appearances in seven games.