Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cuban Imports and 1B possibilities

Its not quite official, just yet, and Mr. Anderson has yet to set foot onto American soil, but the Rays' temporary stop-gap for Carlos Pena and/or Carl Crawford may be the same guy that scouts deemed "Cuba's Baseball Adonis." Leslie Anderson really shouldn't be deemed a "prospect" exactly, seeing as he's going to be 28 in less than 3 weeks, but he's an interesting signing internationally by the Rays. Lost in the negotiations for Arguelles(now a Royal) and the on-going story of JJ Ruiz(still a FA), the Rays snuck in and worked out a 4 year, 3.75 MIL deal with Anderson.

There's a lot of confusion regarding Anderson as a player. Some scouts at a past workout deemed him mediocre and really didn't like his swing/throws and didn't see much of a future for him. However, he's shown in the past that he's more of a "pure hitter" than a "power" hitter and he's possibly an above-average fielder at 1B and could very well be an average fielder at the 3 OF positions(however, one would think he's best suited for the COF spots).

BP's Clay Davenport translated his Cuban stats and there's a possibility that Leslie isn't a full-time starter in the majors(mainly due to his lack of power) but if he continues to show his prowess to take pitches and draw walks, while roping doubles and playing above-average D...I'm quite alright with that.

Onto where he's going to start his minor league career. Many people believe that Leslie will start in Durham, however it may be best suited for the Rays to give him a small look in Montgomery, where he's not pressured to hit the ground running like he would in Durham with the 4-5 other players slotted to share time at 1B, 3B, DH and the 2 corner OF spots(Shealy, Blalock, D. Johnson and Richard to name a few). Leslie may face better pitchers in a two-week stint in Montgomery than he would in the probable 3-4 month stint he may get in Durham before the MLB Trade Deadline(in which a spot may end up opening for him).

I could be wrong and rushing to judgement, but I believe that the signing of Anderson was a very good one for the Rays both on and off the field. Though he may only play out his contract, establishing the Rays' brand in another international locale is only going to help the Rays' in finding Int'l Free Agents world-wide.
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[Posted by Jake Larsen]

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