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Cubans - One final matter of intrigue before spring training

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A piece on the Spanish version of the Miami Herald website today (for a quick translation you can plug the address into translate.google.com) discusses the recruitment of Cuban 1B/DH/OF Jose Julio Ruiz and says that he should sign in the next week. Similar to previous updates, this article does mention the Rangers as one of the teams hoping to sign Ruiz. A handful of Cuban players with lower profiles than Aroldis Chapman but with major league ability have left the country in recent months and have either received clearance from the United States to sign with a major league club or are reportedly close to it. Ruiz and fellow outfielder Leslie Anderson have received this clearance, so they will most likely be signing and joining major league camps soon. 

Ruiz is 25 and a big guy who has gotten bigger in the past year or so, but he's a good athlete and most scouts seem to like his left-handed swing. Anderson, 27, is more athletic and has put up gaudy numbers in Cuba, but he has more of an unconventional swing, and the Rangers have not been as closely connected with his name.

I noted Thursday that there is a Cuban shortstop named Adeiny Hechevarria, a 21 year old (who has not yet been cleared by the U.S.), who is getting interest from MLB, and, while I think this piece is a bit sensationalized, George King talks about the Yankees' interest in him. Hechevarria is among a group of 5-6 fairly highly rated players (primarily pitchers and shortstops) hoping to be cleared to sign soon. This website has some interesting information and video on some of these players and attempts to rank them as prospects. I can't really speak to the rankings, but if he is on track, knowing what we know about Noel Arguelles and Jose Iglesias, these would all be pretty intriguing players, though at a pretty wide spread on the development spectrum.

Back to Ruiz and the Rangers, I think that we would have to consider this more of a talent acquisition than an effort to fill a hole for the 2010 Rangers. He is a left handed bat and, while he may be fairly versatile, he doesn't seem to offer a lot of defensive value. But if he is a quality, major league ready hitter and can be had at a reasonable price, my guess is that the Rangers see that as money better spent than on a player who only helps them for one year in a limited role, even if that player hits from the right side and/or can play center field.