White Sox adding Yoelqui Céspedes to next international class

The White Sox’s international scouting apparatus basically has one club in the bag. They can swing the hell out of it, provided the conditions make it possible.

2021 appears to be one of those years. Baseball America’s Ben Badler and MLB’s Jesse Sanchez both have Cuban outfielder Yoelqui Céspedes signing with the White Sox when the international scouting period opens on Jan. 15.

Céspedes is the younger half-brother of Yoenis Céspedes, and he’s the highest-profile international amateur the White Sox have landed for a standard amount of money. He ranks No. 12 on Baseball America’s board, and No. 1 on MLB Pipeline’s.

The scouting reports on those lists are similar to each other — he offers plus bat speed, power and a throwing arm from an unusual frame — 5’9″, 205 lbs. — scoring 50 or better in all five tools on MLB Pipeline’s 20-80 scale. The discrepancy in the rankings is probably based on Céspedes’ age. He’s 23, which makes him the oldest player on Baseball America’s board, and he doesn’t have a whole lot of recent Series Nacional success to draw upon.

Baseball America did rank a couple of Cubans higher — 22-year-old outfielder Pedro Leon got the No. 1 spot, and 18-year-old Yiddi Cappe ranked fourth. Still, whether he’s top five or top 15, the White Sox haven’t landed players of either caliber, at least on deals that would be permissible under present circumstances. The White Sox signed José Abreu for six years and $68 million on a major-league contract, and they blew out their budget and accepted the penalty for signing Luis Robert for a total cost of $52 million. A guy like Céspedes couldn’t have been signed on either deal because 1) he’s younger than 25, and 2) Major League Baseball won’t certify pool-busting deals anymore.

So it’s cool that Céspedes is aboard, especially since his ~$2 million signing bonus also makes it possible for the White Sox’s budget to accommodate the previously reported agreement with Norge Carlos Vera. With Leon commanding a $4 million price tag from the Astros, and Cappe a $3.5 million deal from the Marlins, that would’ve been a tougher needle to thread. The White Sox have numerous other signings lined up as well, with Domincan third baseman Victor Quezada leading the way at $500,000, according to Badler.

As for Oscar Luis Colás, the previous big-deal advanced outfielder from Cuba, Céspedes’ bonus likely precludes him from signing with the White Sox this period, but it’s possible that he waits until the following signing period to maximize the number of deep-pocketed suitors, rather than trying to find the best remaining deal among teams that committed most of their pools. Colás or not, the White Sox should come away from this signing period in far better position to fill out their top prospect lists with a little more confidence and variety.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Jim, where do you think Cespedes will slot in the White Sox prospect rankings?

Shingos Cheeseburgers

They said the Sox could never top the all-Garcia outfield. Just wait until you see the all Y lineup!

As Cirensica

Will Cespedes be a top 10 (maybe top 5) prospect for the White Sox currently? For 2M, that’s neat.


On “pipeline podcast” yesterday Jim Callis stated that he would list him number six behind Jared Kelly.

As Cirensica

That’s pretty good for the cost.


Hopefully, in a few years, Sox players and fans will proclaim that “Cespedes is the best of us.”


Really hope he plays stateside in 2021, even if that’s not likely for tax purposes. His stats are all over the place, and he hasn’t played competitively in a while, and he’s apparently overhauled his swing. It would be fun to get some good footage of him, against competition we can theoretically get a good grasp of.

Also I wonder what his preferred method of spelling is for his name. I’ve seen at least 3 different variations from the coverage of this signing.


I’m surprised Colás isn’t in the pipeline’s Top 30 of international players.

I’m also surprised at their very bullish assessment of Vera: “Evaluators believe Vera has a chance to be a starter at the top of the rotation.” Usually they couch expectations by saying a promising arm might be a mid-rotation piece with high-leverage bullpen potential as a fallback – generic copouts like that.


Exciting stuff I cant tell if Cespedes is more Thomas/Viciedo or Moncada/Robert with the range of opinion and scouting reports but its a great sign for 2 mil. Gotta figure he slots in behind the big 4 of Vaughn/Kopech/Madrigal/Crochet on the prospect rankings.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Does anyone have enough money left unallocated to make it worth his while to sign this year?

If the bet you’re making is that you’ll have a good major league career, then you can argue for moving on that path as quickly as possible. That’s where the paydays are.


Can we go ahead and make HavanaGila the official song?


“Half my heart is in Havana”….Camilla Cabello