Saturday, July 17, 2010

Exicardo Cayonez

Exicardo Cayonez was the Pirates' most high-profile international signing in 2008 and his bonus of $400,000 was the largest the team has ladled out in Latin America. The Rene Gayo scouting report on him called him a plus defender with speed along with a line drive stroke that should translate into a solid major league bat.

His current line in the GCL is .351/.417/.459 after batting .302/.396/.424 in the VSL as a 17 year-old in 2009. Heck, he had a 7-for-7 day on July 6th.

Ben Badler of Baseball America added some good words regarding the Venezuelan prospect: "Bobby Abreu didn't hit any home runs when he was in the GCL and there were scouts who wondered about his power when he was the same age, but he grew into a 20-30 HR guy every year. Cayonez has a good swing, he has good plate discipline and the power is in question right now, but I'd much rather have that profile than an 18-year-old who can hit the ball a mile but doesn't have any feel for hitting."

And to be mentioned in the same breath as Bobby Abreu is no small compliment.

BA must like Cayonez; they also have him on their Prospect Hot Sheet under "Helium Watch" for fast risers. They write: "...he has come as advertised. Now 18, Cayonez is a good athlete who stands out with an advanced feel for hitting for his age. A 6-foot, 183-pound lefthanded hitter, Cayonez's biggest question mark is how much power he'll grow into, but he's already able to use the whole field with a solid, line-drive swing."

As you can see, the question so far is how much power he'll gain as he matures. He is a work in progress. For a guy with great wheels, he's very raw stealing bases, and has played the last two seasons mainly in LF rather than center, where Gayo had projected him. And his strikeout to walk ratio (17:4 in 74 at-bats) needs some work.

But make no mistake - along with Starling Marte, Eric Avila, and Jorge Bishop, he's one of the top Latino position players now in the system. Cayonez could be in West Virginia in 2011 as a 19 year-old, which is aggressive placement for any player, much less a Latin signee who as a rule take some time to acclimate to North America.

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