11/19/2013 3:50 P.M. ET
Cuban prospects taking steps to become free agents
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Two more Cuban prospects are expected to hit the free-agent market by the end of the year.
Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena, 23, and right-handed pitcher Raciel Iglesias, 23, have defected from Cuba and have taken their first steps to becoming free agents, according to an industry source.
Arruebarruena, who is known for his defensive prowess in the middle of the diamond, has established residency in Haiti while Iglesias, who features a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s, has established residency in Mexico.
Both players still must petition for free agency from Major League Baseball and be cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control before they can enter into an agreement with a Major League, a process that can take several weeks. The players are represented by Praver, Shapiro and Hernandez, the agency that also represents Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, who recently signed a six-year, $68 million contract with the White Sox.
Veterans on the international circuit, both players suited up for Cuba in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. In fact, because of their age and experience in Serie Nacional, the island's top amateur baseball league, Arruebarruena and Iglesias will not be subjected to international signing guidelines when they become eligible to sign.
This could be a busy winter for Cuban prospects.
Earlier this month, catcher Yenier Bello, right-handed pitcher Rogelio Armenteros and first baseman Yozzen Cuesta, who are all from Cuba, starred in a showcase in Tijuana, Mexico.
Bello, 28, who is represented by Bryce Dixon of the Primo Sports Group, left Cuba for Ecuador earlier this year and later established residency in Mexico. He has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball but cannot enter into an agreement with a club until he has been cleared by OFAC.
Armenteros and Cuesta, who are represented by the Wasserman Media Group, are also in the process of finalizing their paperwork.
Bello hit .274 with 13 home runs in Cuba's La Serie Nacional, the country's top amateur league, in 2011. He hit 75 home runs and drove in 297 runs in his last five seasons in Cuba, primarily with Sancti Spíritus.