CHICAGO — Yoelqui Cespedes followed Chicago White Sox players Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada while he was in Cuba.
He also had the chance to play against Luis Robert.
“I saw that they have a very good group of Cuban players,” Cespedes said of the Sox through an interpreter Friday during a conference call. “And I think that made easier my decision to sign with this organization.”
The Sox and the highly touted international prospect came to terms on a deal that includes a $2.05 million signing bonus, the team announced Friday.
The 23-year-old outfielder is the No. 1-ranked international prospect, according to MLB.com.
“The tool set is there,” said Marco Paddy, the Sox’s special assistant to the general manager for international operations. “He can run, he can throw, very good, disciplined hitter with a good feel for the strike zone, and he’s shown tremendous power to all sides of the field. We’re getting a guy that has the potential to have five tools in the major leagues and we’re very excited about it.”
Paddy said Cespedes is a natural center fielder with the ability to play all three outfield positions. Cespedes is the younger half-brother of major-league outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
“He’s been a very big help for me because he has already passed through these problems,” Yoelqui said of Yoenis. “He knows what I’m going to face. The main advice he gave me is to work hard every day and work every day. You’re going to have good days and bad days but you have to keep working. You can’t rest, you can’t quit, you just need to keep working and working hard. That’s what I’ve been doing.
“I ask him a lot of questions, and he has responded to them all and has definitely been a good help.”
Cespedes played four seasons (2015-19) for Granma in the Cuban Serie Nacional (Cuban National Series), the country’s top-level league. He slashed .287/.351/.415 with 35 doubles, 10 triples, 12 home runs, 98 RBIs, 114 runs and 14 stolen bases in 226 games with Granma.