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There is another Cuban player to possibly get excited about

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I couldn't find any pictures of the Cuban players, so here is a picture of Cuba.

Cuba.
Cuba.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies have not waded into the Cuban pool very often over the years.

The one time they tossed a line into that pool, they fished out Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and signed him to a three-year, $15 million contract. This was after initially agreeing to a six-year, $60 million deal later scuttled due to concerns about MAG's health.

We are now entering the final year of that Gonzalez contract and all the Phillies have to show for it is six games and 5 1/3 innings at the Major League level in which he has given up four runs and nine hits with five strikeouts and three walks. In two Triple-A seasons he has a 4.91 ERA in 14 games (two starts). He's missed a ton of time due to injuries.

It hasn't gone well, folks.

Which brings us to the two new Cuban stars who announced on Tuesday that they were defecting, brothers Lourdes and Yulieski Gurriel. MLB.com's Jessie Sanchez reports Lourdes, 22 years old, is considered the top prospect in Cuba, while his brother, 31-year-old Yulieski, is considered the country's best player.

Sanchez says Yulieski is Major League ready and could help a big league club now. He's projected to hit .285 with 15-18 homers and 85 RBIs, and can play second base, third base or shortstop.

A player as old as Yulieski, 31, would not be of interest to the Phillies. But his little 'bro might.

The 22-year-old Lourdes is exactly the type of player the Phils should be considering with their stash of cash. Baseball America's Ben Badler says he has 20-homer potential in the Majors and, while he currently plays shortstop, is more likely going to some other infield position at the MLB level. In 183 PAs last year, Gurriel had an OPS of .924 and has a career .355 OBP in 1036 career PAs in Cuba.

Unlike his brother Yulieski, who at 31 can sign with any Major League team once he becomes eligible, Lourdes is subject to international bonus pool limits. However, he turns 23 in October, after which he would not be subject to those same pool limits, meaning teams would be freer to sign him to a big deal.

Given that it usually takes a lot of time for immigration issues to pan out, it's likely he won't sign with a big league club until after his next birthday. That give the Phillies, and other clubs, time to consider their options.

Barring a complete collapse of a season by Maikel Franco, third base appears to be occupied for the foreseeable future. J.P. Crawford is pretty much locked in at shortstop.

That leaves first or second base, positions at which the Phillies don't really have a viable option for the future.

Obviously, there is much more scouting and learning to be done about Gurriel. But if he's a fit for the Phillies, he is the kind of player they should be targeting with their vast amount of financial resources.

And it's unlikely that the MAG signing will have any effect on the team's interest in signing Cuban players, given that there is a new team president and general manager in place.

If Yulieski becomes available before his birthday in October, then things change a bit, as the Phils would have to decide if he is worth going past their total pool allotment. If a team goes over their allotment (this year's numbers have not been released yet) they would be penalized a 100% tax on the money spent, and would be restricted from signing international prospects to deals worth more than $300,000 for the next two signing periods.

That would be a big deal to a team like the Phils, who in recent years have spent big money on some of the best young Latin players in the world.

Still, the opportunity to sign a big-time Cuban talent who is close to Major League ready could be worth the penalties.

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