The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly signed Cuban infielder/outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a multi-year deal. (According to the New York Post‘s Joel Sherman, it’s a seven-year deal worth $22 million.) We did some digging to learn more about the 23-year-old prospect.
Gurriel Jr., who was born in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, is the younger brother of 32-year-old Houston Astros third baseman Yulieski Gurriel. The Gurriel brothers defected from Cuba in February of 2016. According to a story in the New York Times, the brothers defected after appearing in the Carribean World Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The Gurriel brothers come from a baseball family: their father had been a player himself and had managed Cuba’s national team, and the Gurriel family is described by the Times as “baseball royalty in Cuba.”
A TOP TALENT
Gurriel Jr. has been considered one of Cuban baseball’s brightest stars. Across 1,098 plate appearances in the Serie Nacional, he slashed .277/.362/.426. He’d joined the league as a 16-year-old.
Gurriel Jr. was declared a free agent by MLB in August. At the time he was 22, which meant he was subject to international bonus pool spending rules. Gurriel Jr. turned 23 on Oct. 19, and he was expected to hold off signing until after his birthday. He held his showcase for major-league teams on Sept. 13 in Panama.
Listed at six-foot-four, 205 lbs., Gurriel Jr. has played every infield position and has spent time in left field. He’s expected to require one-to-two years of development in the minors.
The newest Blue Jay nearly took his skills to Japan last year: The elder Gurriel brother played half a season for the Yokohama DeNa BayStars in 2014, and he’d agreed to return to the team in 2015 only if it also signed Lourdes. Both players appeared on the team’s spring training roster but, according to a story from the Japan Times, they did not report to camp.
For more on Gurriel Jr.’s skills, you can read a prospect report from Baseball America’s Ben Badler, written in 2015.
HE’S A FAN OF…
Take a look at Gurriel Jr.’s social media accounts and it’s clear that he’s a fan of the Mannequin Challenge. He also appears to cheer for the Miami Heat. Here’s a photo of Gurriel Jr. with Chris Bosh.
And here’s a photo of Gurriel Jr. in a Blue Jays T-shirt, taken almost a year ago . . .