Reds sign Cuban pitcher
Saturday, June 28, 2014 5:00 AM
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Cincinnati Reds are hoping for more success with a Cuban pitcher.
The team signed right-hander Raisel Iglesias to a seven-year contract Friday. Several media outlets reported the deal is worth $27 million.
The 24-year-old Iglesias will join the Reds organization once his visa problems are resolved.
Iglesias defected from Cuba in November, two months after a failed attempt in Mexico. He held a workout in Haiti for major league scouts.
Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty suggested Iglesias will begin his Reds career at the club's baseball academy in the Dominican Republic before being sent to the Arizona Rookie League.
"He's a tremendous athlete, with two quality breaking pitches, a curveball and power slider, and has the makings of a quality changeup," Jocketty said. "Our scouts feel he can be a starter and be a starter very soon. The more pitching we can acquire, the more flexibility it gives us going forward."
The Reds won a bidding war to land their current closer, Cuban lefty Aroldis Chapman, who signed a $30.25 million, six-year deal in 2010.
"The decision was based on the evaluation of our scouts, the same group of guys who went to see Chapman," Jocketty said. "I guarantee you we saw him pitch more than any other club. I have tremendous respect and appreciation for the evaluation of our scouts. They're hard-working and very diligent.
"It was a great organizational effort to get this done," he said. "We're very excited about it."
Iglesias pitched for Isla de la Juventud in Cuba's National Series for three years, compiling an 8-12 record with a 3.47 ERA over 88 appearances, all but five in relief.
He also pitched for the Cuban national team and appeared in the World Baseball Classic last year for Cuba. Jocketty said Iglesias, a converted shortstop, can throw the ball up to 96 mph.