The Blue Jays launched a stealth bombshell today when it was announced that they had signed Cuban defector Lourdes Gourriel, Jr., brother of Yulieski Gourriel, to a seven-year, $22 million contract.
Yulieski was signed by the Houston Astros, hitting .262/.292/.385 in his major league debut this year while Lourdes has hit .277/.362/.426 in Cuba over six seasons. At 23, Lourdes is thought to have excellent bat speed, hand-eye coordination and power while also being patient at the plate and Baseball America’s Ben Badler has called him a “20-homer threat” (subscription required). Lourdes has played all over in Cuba, getting time in left field, shortstop, second base and third base although Badler believes that he’ll ultimate be a plus defender at third.
The fact that the Blue Jays signed Gourriel (or Gurriel, depending who’s writing) after his 23rd birthday means that whatever his signing bonus is, it won’t be counted against the international cap. They got a look at the younger Gourriel after a showcase last month where he worked out at multiple positions, ran a 60-yard dash and showed off his physique and arm. Ben Badler also believes that a Double-A or Triple-A assignment wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. He has worked out at center field and shortstop and I could see the Blue Jays being a bit more conservative with him, starting him in Dunedin.
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