The Yoennis Cespedes Compilation

On news that the Marlins will be "aggressive right to the point of stupidity" with their pursuit of Yoennis Cespedes, it seems about right for us to take a look at everything there is to know about Cespedes. Since we may be in the lead for the biggest name in Cuban prospects since Aroldis Chapman, we should know what we are getting ourselves into.

With that in mind, here are some commentaries of what we have heard about the young man since he debuted in our hearts in minds almost two months ago.

The Video

If you haven't seen all of the video, I would suggest it. This is what most of us initially got a glimpse of, and it was impressive. The first thing that stands out (outside of the video's oddness) is Cespedes's physicial prowess. Even today, the absurdity of some of the things he was able to do in his training are beyond me. His standup from a sit-up position still kills me today. He is a physical freak.

In case you missed it the first time, make sure you have the video on with Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein's blow-by-blow review next to you. It's a must-have.

The Second Video

The second video is far less corny than the first (for one, no pig roasting at the end), but it still has its funny moments. At the end of each drill, they air a generic applause track that makes me laugh. There is more of the same in terms of his obvious ability to hit, including his ability to drive a ball a long, long ways. Enjoy it.

The Word on the Scouting Street

From Kevin Goldstein:

Despite the hype Cespedes has received, the consensus seems to be that he’ll merely be a solid regular to start off his MLB career and will be best-suited for the bottom half of the order. If he’s able to make the necessary adjustments, his upside is a veritable middle-of-the-order threat. He has tremendous tools, and at 26 years old, his best years lie ahead of him.

From Ben Badler of Baseball America:

"The athleticism stands out. He's gotten himself into excellent shape in the Dominican Republic where he has been training. He's a guy that has a lot of tools. He led Cuba's top league in home runs. He has plus-plus power and great bat speed," he said.

"That is not his only tool. He's either a center fielder or possibly a right fielder down the road. He is a plus or better runner with a plus arm as well. If anything his bat might be his worst tool (in terms of batting average). I think a lot of scouts think he will hit, but he's not going to be a guy to hit .300 but maybe between .260 and .280. Won't be a huge on-base guy but has the power and speed to give you a lot of value, especially if he is in center field."

From Dan Olsen of Orioles Nation:

He will need patience and seasoning in the minors or limited time at the major league level from any organization. Teams will have to treat him as a prospect. He has vast potential and could be an impact bat at an up the middle position. He could be the type of player that a team could build around, but stardom is not a lock.

Most of these accounts basically say the same thing: Cespedes will be ready to contribute in midseason 2012, but he will still need to receive seasoning in Triple-A before hand. When he does come up, there is a good chance he will be a contributor in 2012, perhaps at an average or slightly less so clip this year. From there, it is all about development; he has the capability to be a middle-of-the-order power threat, but he will have to get through significant difficulties with plate discipline. None of that differs from what we discussed earlier this week.

A Statistical Argument

One interesting discussion that I recently read was a statistical one based on translations of Cespedes's Cuban Serie A stats. This work was done by the incomparable Clay Davenport, formerly of Baseball Prospectus.

Yoennis Cespedes               Born 19851018 Age 25   Bats R   Throws R  Height 70  Weight 200   Regular DT
Year Team         Lge  AB  H   DB  TP  HR  BB  SO  R  RBI  SB  CS  Out  BA   OBP  SLG   EqA EqR POW SPD KRt WRt BIP Defense
2004 Granma______ CBA 300  73  17   4   8  23  86  40  34   3   1  233 .243 .302 .407  .246  35   5   0 -18  -3   4  77-DH   0
2005 Granma______ CBA 358  92  22   3  13  26  83  55  42   4   1  273 .257 .314 .444  .261  48  10   1  -8  -3   0  93-DH   0
2006 Granma______ CBA 360 101  23   2  19  31  68  66  58   6   1  262 .281 .344 .514  .289  59  17   3  -1  -1   0  87-CF  -3
2007 Granma______ CBA 361  91  22   2  17  30  84  67  57  12   5  278 .252 .317 .465  .267  51  15   8  -8  -2  -4  77-CF   8
2008 Granma______ CBA 378  82  14   1  18  21  79  57  52   3   2  301 .217 .258 .402  .225  36  13   3  -6  -6 -21  76-CF   9   1-LF   1
2009 Granma______ CBA 348  87  14   1  18  28  60  58  54   4   2  270 .250 .307 .451  .260  47  14   1   2  -2 -13  65-CF   2
2010 Granma______ CBA 358  93  19   3  14  30  70  61  45   4   1  267 .260 .321 .447  .264  48   9   2  -2  -2  -3  75-CF  -9
2011 Granma______ CBA 375  92  16   1  22  34  67  60  65   8   1  287 .245 .311 .469  .267  53  18   2   1  -1 -16  85-CF  16
                  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Minors       591 148  31   4  27  46 124  97  85   9   3 2171 .251 .309 .451  .260  78  13   2  -5  -2  -7  97-CF   5

This is the first glimpse that we have received of what Cespedes's significantly large numbers would have looked like in the big leagues. What we apparently have seen in the last three seasons is a slightly above league average hitter with a low OBP and a low batting average but with significant power. What is great about this is that it perfectly matches his scouting report as reported above. He is essentially a poorly-disciplined hitter who is still struggling with work at the plate, but when he runs into a ball, he runs into it in a big way. A look at the three-year rates for strikeouts yields a 17 percent rate and an ISO of .204.

As Davenport goes on to describe in his article, Baltimore Orioles' center fielder Adam Jones serves as a good example of the type of player Cespedes probably is at the moment. Is that a good thing? Well, in the last three seasons, Jones has hit .281/.326/.455 and contributed an average of 8.8 WAR to the Orioles. Over a three-season time period, that is solidly above average contribution, and the Marlins figure to be paying around $8 million a season for it. Knocking that figure down to even 2.5 WAR per year makes their free agent investment more than worthwhile.

If the Fish are indeed interested in pursuing Cespedes, I am all for it. As I mentioned earlier this week, the Marlins are ripe to take a shot at a young player whom they can allow to develop at the beginning before inserting him into the starting lineup later in the year. His early contributions will be minimal, but the fact that they likely still provide a small improvement means the Fish are not only slightly gaining now, but they are also paying for a decent-chance lottery ticket for the future.

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