While his upcoming arrival in America has not generated the same buzz as Yu Darvish, Cuban Outfielder Leonys Martin is another foreign import worth watching. Martin defected after in August after the University Games in Japan and is trying to establish residence abroad.
Martin, age 22, was impressive during his short career in the Cuban National Series. He often ranked near the top of the league in runs, stolen bases, and batting average. But Martin never generated much buzz in international competition before this summer because the Cuban National Team’s outfield includes Alfredro Despaigne, Yoennis Cespedes, & Co. That changed this summer when an injury to Alexei Bell cleared a starting spot for Martin to start in the University Games in Japan. Martin performed admirably in route to a victory over Team USA in the championship game.
As discussed in this article by John Manuel, Martin is a solid all-around player whose best attributes are defense and speed. To me, Martin seems about the equivalent of Todd Cunningham, Tyler Holt, or Jarrett Parker, outfielders offering decent skills across the board who were picked in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of this year’s draft. But it’s difficult to tell with defectors, so Martin is a player who is definitely worth watching.