06/18/12 1:58 PM ET
Two Cuban pitchers closing in on MLB deals
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Right-handed power arm Armando Rivero, 23, a former member of the Cuban national team, and left-handed pitcher Omar Luis Rodriguez, 19, have drawn interest from several Major League clubs and are on track to sign in the next two weeks, according to an industry source.
The Cubs, Dodgers, Indians, Mets, Yankees and White Sox have all expressed interest in the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Rivero, according to the source. Rivero, who has a body type similar to Texas reliever Mike Adams, starred for the Havana Industriales as a closer and was a teammate of Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes and Texas Minor Leaguer Leonys Martin at the World University Baseball Championships in Japan in 2010.
The right-hander's fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s and his repertoire also features a two-seam fastball, slider and changeup.
The Dodgers, Royals and Phillies are among the teams that have expressed interest in Rodriguez, who projects to be a starter. He burst onto the international scene during the 2010 World Junior Baseball Championship when he struck out eight batters during a complete-game, 144-pitch outing to eliminate Team USA in the semifinals. He led Cuba to a bronze medal and was named to the competition's all-tournament team.
The teenager must sign with a Major League club before July 2, or he will be subject to new CBA guidelines that will limit spending on international prospects to $2.9 million per team without penalty.
Rivero and Rodriguez, along with Cuban outfielders Henry Urrutia and Gerald Sanchez, were declared free agents at the beginning of the month when outfielder Jorge Soler also came on to the market. Soler, considered the second-best Cuban prospect behind Cespedes this year, signed a nine-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs last week.
Cespedes signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the A's in February.