Yadir Drake! …is a name you probably don’t know. Which is fine, really. When the Dodgers signed the Cuban outfielder last summer, even Dustin’s post on it was basically “I’m not sure this is a real person who exists:”
I couldn’t find any information on Drake, other than a tweet of someone saying he’s the “Dodgers new Yasiel.” Seeing as almost no one has ever even heard of him, I wouldn’t hold my breath that he’s the next Yasiel Puig. Whatever he signed for shouldn’t go against the Dodgers’ international signing pool since he’s 24 years old.
I basically forgot he existed after that. And why not? There wasn’t much to talk about. There wasn’t much to think about, really, because he reportedly hadn’t played in Cuba since 2010, though he’d had some action in Mexico since then. He was a name in a transactional report, and that was really it.
Now, that may still be true, and I’m still not sure that he’s a prospect we should ever think about. But on a Saturday morning, it’s at least worth noting how interesting Drake’s first month in American professional baseball has been. Drake started off the season with the Low-A Great Lakes Loons, and played seven games for them before being promoted to the High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on April 20. He played seven games for them before being promoted to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, where he made his debut yesterday a memorable one by getting three hits, including a two-run homer. He’s now hitting .383/.471/.567.
Sidenote: From that story, just a ton of minor league roster moves worth sharing: “In addition to Corey Seager‘s move, the Dodgers released outfielders Jeremy Hazelbaker and Jon Garcia and pitcher Fabio Martinez. Tulsa added infielder Nate Samson from Triple-A Oklahoma City and outfielders Drake and Adam Law from Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. Pitcher Jorge De Leon was officially returned from Ogden.”
Because we live in the future and the future is great, here’s video of that homer, just hours after it happened in a Double-A baseball game. Isn’t the future great?
Now that line is impressive, of course, but it’s also come in just 70 plate appearances, nearly all of which came against pitchers three or four or five years younger than he is. Undoubtedly, his somewhat advanced age (he turned 25 last month) is part of what’s prompting these speedy promotions, and I’d hardly expect this pace to continue, otherwise he’d be in the big leagues by the end of the month.
There’s still just so much we don’t know about him, really. We can’t even agree on what position he plays. He’s played exclusively outfield, but in March Baseball America said he would be tried as a catcher, and in April a Michigan paper referred to him as an “outfielder and pitcher.”
Seems he can play a little outfield, though, if this catch from one of his first games with the Quakes is any indication:
He remains a mystery to many of his teammates and coaches. There are few traces of his statistics or playing history on the internet.
“I had never heard of him and didn’t know anything about him before spring training,” Great Lakes Loons hitting coach Jay Gibbons said. “But he killed it in spring training. He was hitting everything. It was pretty impressive.
“He’s 24 years old. If he continues to hit like that, I can see him moving pretty quickly through the system.”
That was Drake’s goal in 2011 when he got on the boat. It was his goal in August when he signed with the Dodgers.
He can also pitch. He filled in when needed in Mexico and says his fastball can hit 97 mph.
“But my best pitch is the splitter,” Drake said. “I play the outfield here. If they need me to pitch, I can.
“I can do anything they ask me to do.”
I’m not sure I’m really adding anything of substance here; I’ve never seen him play and an hour before I started writing this, I didn’t know anything about him other than his name. But I know that he’s probably a little more fascinating than it seemed when he was signed. I know that I’ll at least be paying attention to him this season. It’s fun to have more talented players in a farm system than you know how to keep track of.