Report: Dodgers agree to terms with Cubans Yusniel Diaz and Omar Estevez

It’s Sunday and there’s news! No, not of a managerial hiring. That should come tomorrow. Today, the Dodgers, reportedly, continued their gradual takeover of Cuba.

Oh, that’s nice. Dylan Hernandez tweeted after and said a source confirmed the deals. The Dodgers haven’t really made a splash on the international market since July 2, so this is good to see.

Yusniel Diaz, 19, is 6’1, 195 pounds and MLB.com graded his best tool as his speed (70). He ran a 6.5-second 60-yard dash, so that checks out. Scouts said he has shown some power potential go along with his speed, and the Dodgers giving him $15.5 million shows they’re big-time believers in him. It’s hard to take anything away from Serie Nacional, but he walked more times than he struck out. He isn’t as bulky as a guy like Yasiel Puig or as big as a guy like Jorge Soler (6’4, 225), but he has an ability to play center field (despite playing left field in Serie Nacional) that neither Puig or Soler can lay claim to. Like Puig and Soler, he’s righty all the way.

MLB Pipeline ranked him the third-best prospect on the international market, just behind Yadier Alvarez (a Dodger) and Vladimir Gutierrez (hopefully soon to be a Dodger).

He has an interesting batting stance that starts slightly open and his front leg is pretty stiff. As the pitcher is about to deliver the pitch, Diaz crouches slightly and has a modified toe-tap. This is all before the bat is even going toward the strike zone. Sometimes it looks like his back side bails out too quickly, which could be a problem in pro balls. He has a line drive stroke and clears his hips, which is partly why scouts think there is power potential in the bat. It’s not the prettiest or smoothest approach I’ve seen, but it seems like the kinks can be smoothed out. In the video I watched, it looked like he is adept at going the other way. In some sense, his swing kind of reminds me of Hector Olivera‘s. It isn’t as refined or polished, but with instruction, it could be even better.

Omar Estevez, 17, is one of the two players who was granted the ability to sign because of an MLB rule change, is a second baseman with a bat-first profile. Here’s what Sanchez wrote about him.

“Estevez showed above-average power in games and solid raw power in batting practice. He has a muscular body, but he’s not too bulky and has been praised for his lateral agility at second base. He doesn’t have the strongest arm but shows good actions on defense.”

Seems like it’s second base or bust for him. Maybe he could end up being a Howie Kendrick-type if all goes well. Sanchez also reported that Diaz and Estevez are the 27th and 28th players the Dodgers have signed since July 2. Diaz is second in signing bonus amount to Alvarez, while Estevez is third.

It isn’t known whether new international scouting director Ismael Cruz had anything to do with these signings, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he did. The Dodgers have until June 15 to sign any international player (basically) for any amount they want. I’m fairly confident this won’t be their last big-money signing before then.

I’m not sure where I’ll rank Estevez, but I’m guessing it’ll be somewhere within the Top 40. Diaz is firmly entrenched in the Top 20 and could rank even higher once there is more of a book on him.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.