The Orioles don't go in for the top of the market players coming out of Cuba, but they're always looking on the bargain rack. They added another such player on Monday, bringing 24-year-old outfielder Elier Leyva into the organization, according to a Baltimore Sun report.
Leyva is not an immediate candidate for the major league roster. The O's beat crew, providing information from the team, suggested that he is likely to begin at Frederick. He is said to be 6'2" and 180 pounds, with an above average arm and "projectable power from the right side." That does indeed sound exciting, although let's face it, if he was really all of that, he probably wouldn't have cost a mere $180,000 to sign.
This is not the first speculative Cuban outfielder signing for the team. Both Henry Urrutia and Dariel Alvarez came from there, with the O's hoping that once they got into the US and got into the routine here, they might show some greater potential than they could do in Cuban leagues. That hasn't paid off for them quite yet. It also hasn't cost them much, either. Urrutia and Alvarez both had bonuses in the $700,000 range. Leyva costs even less to bring into the fold.
Since Leyva is over the age of 23, he won't count against any of the rules for international signing bonuses, provided he's played at least five seasons of professional baseball in Cuba.
If you are currently reading this article from a location where you can view Youtube videos, you really need to look at this hype video from last year, which is the same guy, as far as I can tell. You don't need to watch it because it's impressive. Rather, it's just really funny that it's so serious. There is also this Spanish-language ESPN Deportes article from last May talking about an Elier Leyva, 23, who had just become a free agent.
There is probably a story about why he went from eligible to sign last year with numerous teams interested to only signing for such a modest amount with the Orioles now. Maybe someone will even find out the story. The hype video lists him as 205 lbs, which is very different from 180. Then again, it was a hype video. Or maybe it's not even the same guy! But the Orioles definitely got some guy with that name.
Not too many years ago, the Orioles were the only organization that didn't have even a single Latin-born player on their High-A team. That will not be the case next year. Best of luck to Leyva in climbing up the ranks towards the majors.