Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nats about to sign Cuban pitcher

[UPDATED AT 10:23 P.M.]

CINCINNATI -- The Nationals have agreed to terms with top Cuban right-hander Yuneski Maya, pending a physical. Club officials would not confirm the signing, though they also wouldn't deny a report of the signing by ESPNdeportes.com, and general manager Mike Rizzo spoke openly about the abilities of a pitcher who could join the Nats' rotation within weeks.

Maya, 28, defected from his native Cuba to the Dominican Republic last year and was recently cleared by the U.S. government to sign with a major-league club. He has been working out and pitching in simulated games in the Dominican, scouted by numerous clubs including the Red Sox, Indians, Phillies, Blue Jays, Mets and Yankees.

Rizzo said Maya is polished enough and in good enough condition to pitch in the majors within a matter of weeks.

"We do," Rizzo said. "We think he's capable of pitching in the major leagues very soon. We have to see where he's at. After he signs, he'll have to work his way up into a rotation, I would assume. But all the guys who have seen him, all the scouts who have evaluated him, think he's a rotation-caliber pitcher."

Maya pitched for the Cuban national team in both the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic, going a combined 1-1 with an 0.87 ERA in six total appearances (one start). During six seasons in the Cuban National Series, he was 48-29 with a 2.51 ERA and won last year's equivalent of the Cy Young award. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound hurler possesses a low-to-mid 90s fastball as well as an assortment of offspeed pitches.

"He's a terrific, young, poised, capable, major-league-caliber pitcher," Rizzo said. "He was the No. 1 pitcher on a very successful Cuban national team. He pitched in front of guys like [Aroldis] Chapman. ... There's a lot of teams that are on him, and there's a lot of good teams and programs that are on him that are vying for his attention. Some of the most successful organizations would like to sign him and put him directly into their rotation. And we're one of them."

Maya still must obtain a work visa before entering the United States. He then needs to pass a physical before the deal is completed.

One reason the Nationals were able to secure Maya's services: Their signing of 44-year-old Cuban pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez to a minor-league contract last month. Hernandez, Livan's half-brother, has been working out in Viera the last few weeks, and though he's not guaranteed of pitching at Class AAA Syracuse this season, his presence helped the Nats sign Maya.

30 comments:

Brian said...

Do we know if it's a major league deal (and a 40-man spot)?

JayB said...

Good News! How old is he 29 or 28 seems be vary. What kind of stuff does he have and when did he pitch last?

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Forget the physical. Let's start him Friday.

Anonymous said...

Making JayB finally happy ...
One scout said Maya, 28, threw in the 88-92 mph range, much like he did in the World Baseball Classic this year when he had a 1.23 ERA in 7 1/3 innings.

"That’s what he normally pitches," said Maya’s agent Bart Hernandez. "His command was great. He has three plus quality pitches and he throws them for strikes."

Maya’s repertoire includes a fastball (which peaks at 90 mph), curveball, changeup and slider.

Maya doesn’t throw 100, but is a pitcher that knows how to slice and dice the corners. He throws in the low 90s and mixes in a curveball, changeup and slider. At 27, Maya can probably help a rotation now.

Anonymous said...

During this past season (SN 48), Maya finished 2nd in ERA with 2.22, tied for 1st in CG with 7, tied for 1st in Wins with 13, tied for 1st in Shutouts with 2, 1st in IP with 146, 2nd in Strikeouts with 119 and tied for 5th in Dead Balls with 13.

Maya said during a recent interview that he replaced the slider with a curveball. He also throws sinker, changeup and fastball. This year he touched 96 MPH against Villa Clara. Pedro Pérez, the pitching coach for the Cuban National team, asked him to throw even more inside fastballs.

Maya has a reputation for coming inside with high heat. During the WBC#1, Maya came in relief against Panamá. Panamanian Rubén Rivera was hitting with the bases loaded and a chance to win the game for Panamá and Maya came inside with a high heater. Rivera did not take the dead ball and shortly hit into an out. Then, Cuba finally won the game.

Maya also drilled Santiago de Cuba RF Alexei Bell in the septum during the opening game during this past season with a high heater.

Anonymous said...

And finally on Charley and Dave during a 1 hour plus Q&A Mike Rizzo said that he was a battle-tested Cuban equivalent of a CY Young winner ready to go. That any team that signed him was getting a major league ready pitcher. He did not disclose the signing on Charley and Dave when asked.

dmichalopoulos said...

I would think he would be up in September, based on his age/experience. Seems to have #2 stuff, which would take some pressure off of Zimmerman as he comes back from Tommy John.

JayC said...

Anonymous said...
"Making JayB finally happy ..."

Nope. He's only happy when he's complaining. I'll bet he's fun to be around.

natsfan1a said...

Sounds good.

Anonymous said...

They'll find out about him when they get him to Viera I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Someone for Livan to mentor next year ... that should be interesting all by itself ... ;)

Anonymous said...

AK and the Post calling it official. Apparently, they were able to get verification even if Charley and Dave could not.

bobn said...

Let's see..Zimmermann, Chico, Olson..etc., etc. who goes...who stays in September?

natsfan1a said...

Anon l0:12, I was thinking the same thing, but do we have to wait 'til next year? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ok! ... more arms, good middle of the order ... can we now *please* go shore up the top of the order?

Anonymous said...

With or w/out this signing, who here would trade Capps? Just curious...

BG

Anonymous said...

We are now fully stocked with slightly-above-mediocre starting pitchers.

Anonymous said...

"No" to trading Capps. He's worth more to us than anyone else. Storen isn't ready yet. Plus, how else can we cheer "Let's go Capps." If he leaves?

Sec3MyAnonymous said...

Trade Capps? Didn't we just have that discussion, like, two days ago? OK, it was more like three weeks. Still.
http://natsinsider.blogspot.com/2010/07/should-nats-trade-capps.html

Sec3MyAnonymous said...

SO his nickname will have to be The Other Shoe.

"One reason the Nationals were able to secure Maya's services: Their signing of 44-year-old Cuban pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez to a minor-league contract last month. Hernandez, Livan's half-brother, has been working out in Viera the last few weeks, and though he's not guaranteed of pitching at Class AAA Syracuse this season, his presence helped the Nats sign Maya."

rmoore446 said...

Washington has had good luck with Cuban pitchers. I'm geezer enough to remember Camilo Pasual who won a lot of games for the Senators...well over 100.

How could I forget the Saturday network "Game of the Week" (when that was all we got) in the mid-1960s with Camilo pitching and Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese calling the action? I think it was 1965 and a game against the Yankees.

Suddenly the trainer had to go out to visit Camilo who was suddenly experiencing some kind of difficulty. It was Dizzy who figured out Camilo had swallowed his quid of chewing tobacco. Dizzy got to laughing so hard I thought he might need a visit from the trainer.

Anonymous said...

Rizzo is peddling some fiction, as Cuba doesn't have an "equivalent of the Cy Young award." Cuban baseball has an MVP and a ROY and that's it.

Maya was a great pitcher in Cuba, but he turns 29 next month, so time isn't on his side. This looks like a low-cost, low-risk signing by the Nats.

Anonymous8 said...

Sounds promising!!!

Knoxville Nat said...

In the mid sixties Camilo Pascual was pitching for the Minnesota Twins not the Senators. But yes while with the Senators he was a pretty good pitcher, as good as any Senator pitcher could be on those clubs.

NatsJack in Florida said...

And who can forget Pedro Ramos, Camilo's Cuban buddy.

I attended a Twins fantasy camp in 1989 at Tinker Field in Orlando and it was quite a treat to meet Pedro, Camilo, Earl Battey, Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison among others.

Camilo was a 2-time 20 game winner with the Twins and actually went 17 - 10 with the Senators in 1958.

Doc said...

How old are 29 Cuban years, in American years?

Anonymous said...

If this works out, 2011 rotation prediction:

Strasburg
Zimmermann
Maya
Olsen
Hernandez

Anonymous said...

Ok! ... more arms, good middle of the order ... can we now *please* go shore up the top of the order?

Go watch the video AK posted from Capital Punishment. This guy ***IS*** top of the rotation, at least if he pitches like that? Made Ichiro look silly. They kept saying "mui fuoco"!

Here's your rotation in August (fingers crossed):

1. Strasburg (until shutdown)
2. Maya
3. Zimmermann (until shutdown)
4. Hernandez
5. Martin/Detwiler/Marquis/Stammen/Olsen
I'd go with Olsen if he proves he is healthy.

A DC Wonk said...

"Maya has a reputation for coming inside with high heat."

Finally! *Someone* on the Nats needs to show the other young 'uns (Strasburg, you listening?) how to do that!

A DC Wonk said...

If this works out, 2011 rotation prediction:

Strasburg
Zimmermann
Maya
Olsen
Hernandez


Let's not forget that if Wang can regain his form, he'd be a serious starter, too.

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