Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Eight players from Cuba have been declared free agents by the Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Office prior to the upcoming start of the international signing period, Francys Romero of beisbolfr.com reported.
Romero reported Monday that right-handed pitcher Jeiser Tellez, who belongs to Born to Play Academy in the Dominican Republic, will be able to sign after November 16 with a MLB organization.
Tellez, 19, born in Ciego de Avila, Cuba, is represented by Dominican Republic sports agent Edgar Mercedes.
Tellez participated in the first year of the MLB Amateur Scouting league during the course of the 2023 season.
According to Romero, “Tellez is throwing above 90 mph and mixes in with excellent secondary pitches to generate missed swings.”
Tellez played for the Green South team that won the championship game of the MLB Amateur Scout League and went 2-0 during the 2023 MLB Amateur Scout League season with a 1.20 ERA in five games and two starts. Tellez allowed 19 hits, three earned runs, one home run, 10 walks and struck out 23 batters in the MLB Amateur Scout League.
Tellez played at the 2022 U-18 National Championship for Ciego de Avila operated by the Comisión Nacional de Béisbol and Federacion Cubana de Beisbol, where he went 8-2 with a 1.92 ERA, throwing 70.1 innings with 19 walks and 66 strikeouts. He had seven complete games and was tied with fellow Cuban pitcher Miguel Neira with eight wins.
Tellez was called up in September to the U-23 Ciego de Avila team, where he pitched 5.1 innings and struck out three batters.
Seven other players from Cuba were also declared free agents by the MLB Commissioner’s Office on Tuesday. Catcher Luis Gomez, right-handed pitcher Roger Bolanos, third baseman Jose Luis Cerice, catcher Adalberto Salazar, right-handed pitcher Daivel Alvarez, right-handed pitcher Lemay Portal and infielder Pedro Jose Fuentes.
All other players except Alvarez will be able to sign starting November 16, 2023. Alvarez left Cuba back during late July with Bolanos, right-handed pitcher Yulian Quintana and right-handed pitcher Marlon Vega.
Vega and Alvarez also participated in the Showcase International Event that happened in Merida, Mexico during late September, Romero reported.
Gomez played for Ganaderos de Camagüey from 2013-22 in Serie Nacional in 271 games with 531 plate appearances he batted .246 recording 114 hits, 18 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 54 RBI, 40 walks, and 77 strikeouts including a .659 OPS.
Salazar played for the Black East team during the 2023 MLB Amateur Scouting League in eight games with 19 plate appearances where he batted .313 recording five hits, three doubles, one triple, two walks, and five strikeouts alongside a .946 OPS.
Bolanos played in the 2023 Serie Nacional regular season with Huracanes de Mayabeque appearing in 15 games out of the bullpen and recorded a 1-1 record throwing 14.1 innings allowing 16 hits, seven earned runs, two home runs, 17 walks, and striking out eight batters.
Portal played with Huracanes de Mayabeque in the 2023 Serie Nacional season in eight games out of the bullpen including a 0-1 record with giving up no earned runs while facing 25 batters in 5.2 innings allowing six hits, three earned runs, and four walks prior to him leaving for Mexico from Cuba on September 10.
According to Romero’s tweet from Saturday, “Cerice will sign with the Kansas City Royals when a new international signing period opens January 15, 2024.”
The result of that has now been changed by the MLB Commissioner’s office.
All of the listed Cuban prospects will be able to play in their first professional seasons at the Dominican Summer League complex level or rookie complex level during 2024. Other evaluations will go from MLB team’s front office and player development to play at the lower levels of the minor leagues with big league organizations.
According to Sam Dykstra of MLB.com, “The Amateur Scouting League is run in combination with MLB’s Trainer Partnership Program and offers an opportunity for amateur players in the Dominican Republic between the ages of 15-18 to play in front of scouts and technology accessed by all 30 Major League teams. More than 500 players participate, representing upwards of 100 different academies, including ones run by trainers of former major leaguers such as Dominican Republic natives Bartolo Colon and Rafael Furcal. Teams played more than 100 games over the course of the season and postseason”.
The MLB Amateur Scouting League schedule operates with five divisions with teams from the north, east, south, and central divisions and is grouped by weeks throughout the summer from early May until late July.