Gourriel is a 25-year old infielder who has been Cuba’s best player since age 21, and emerged internationally during the ’07 World Baseball Classic.
The concern with Gourriel is whether he’ll come to the United States. When asked about defecting, Gourriel said: “My commitment is to my family, which has guided me since I was little, and the revolution, which has guaranteed me everything I’ve needed to become a ballplayer,” he said. “That’s all I need as a person. I have definite convictions.”
Despite his “commitment to the revolution,” many major league general managers would like to become “comrades” with Gourriel because he is the Leon Trotsky of young second baseman. Gourriel’s numbers are astounding considering the talent level in Cuban baseball is about the equivalent of AA baseball. Every season, Gourriel hits between .370 to .400 and hits 20-30 HR’s (they play only 80 games).
Compare these numbers with Aroldis Chapman, whose defection from Cuba generated worldwide publicity. It would be wrong to read too much into Chapman’s numbers because—regardless of his stats—he is a left handed pitcher who can throw 100 MPH. Nevertheless, it shows players like Gourriel, DeSpainge, and Cepeda could become productive major league players if given the chance.