Power-hitting outfielder Yasmani Tomas defects from Cuba

Chung Sung-Jun

While he might not be the best player to come from Cuba, Tomas could be the country's next MLB superstar.

Outfielder Yasmani Tomas has defected from Cuba and will pursue a contract with a Major League team, according to Baseball America's Ben Badler. Cuba's state newspaper, Granma, has confirmed Tomas' defection.

Tomas, 23, is a power hitting outfielder (70-grade raw power) who could step directly into a big league lineup upon being signed. He might spend a little time in the minors like Yasiel Puig did, but he has shown he can hit at a high level. Tomas batted .375/.412/.813 with two home runs and five runs batted in during the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Badler named him the sixth-best prospect in the tournament behind Japan's Masahiro Tanaka and fellow Cuban defector Jose Abreu.

Tomas also hit .286 in 81 games for Industriales last year with 15 homers, 45 runs scored and 60 RBIs.

He will not be subject to international bonus pool rules since he is 23 years old and has played more than five seasons in Cuba's Serie Nacional.

The 6'1" and 230 pound right-handed slugger has played center field for the Cuban national team, but his below-average speed might land him at a corner outfield spot in the majors.

He has not secure residency in another country yet, and he'll still need to get an unblocking license from the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to become a free agent, but the news of his defection could mean another huge bidding war and the emergence of another marquee Cuban superstar.

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