Oscar Colas, a Cuban outfielder/pitcher who spent the 2019 season playing for Softbank in the Japanese League, has defected, according to Jeff Passan on Twitter. Passan says that the 21 year old lefty, who he calls “one of the best prospects to emerge from Cuba in years,” is looking to land with a major league team.
Colas hit .300/.353/.511 for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Western League in 2019. He was used only as a position player there, according to B-R’s data, but Passan says he also throws 95 mph as a lefthanded pitcher.
Since Colas is under 25, he will be subject to the J-2 bonus pool restrictions when he signs. While it is possible that he could be cleared to sign in the first half of 2020, generally speaking, establishing residency in another country (not the United States, since that would mean he’d end up in the draft instead of being a free agent) and being cleared by MLB to be eligible to sign generally takes a good deal of time, meaning that he may not be eligible to sign as part of this current J-2 class. Moreover, most teams have already spent their allotted J-2 bonus pool money, so even if he did clear in time to sign before July 2, 2020, he likely would be best served waiting until the next signing period starts anyway.
The Rangers have been very active in scouting both Latin America and Japan, and it stands to reason that they will have interest in Colas, though they likely already have understandings in place with guys who become eligible to sign on July 2, 2020, that will eat up the bulk of their bonus pool for the next class. Texas can trade for additional bonus pool money, and has traditionally done that, to expand their ability to sign, though it remains to be seen if that would be enough to get Colas.