Phillies Sign Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez from Cuba

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez joins Raul Valdes as the only other Cuban player on the Phillies roster.

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez joins Raul Valdes as the only other Cuban player on the Phillies roster.

Cuban baseball players are among the best in the world, and many have found success upon defecting to the United States. Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman has developed a powerful legacy since he defected in 2010. Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes recently won the 2013 Home Run Derby. And Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been the talk of the league, hitting .376 and leading the Dodgers on a hot streak of late.

Now another Cuban sensation is headed to the major leagues. The Philadelphia Phillies announced the signing of 26-year-old pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a 6 year, $50 million contract. The contract is the richest contract ever given to an international player. According to a Yahoo Sports report,Gonzalez has  “a fastball that sits around 93 mph and recently topped out at 96, a split-fingered fastball and changeup that serve as his off-speed pitches, a cut fastball and a slow curveball.” Gonzalez defected earlier this year to Cuba to Mexico and played in a low-level league there.

The move comes as positive news for the Phillies who have struggled recently. The Phillies are 1-6 since the All-Star break, and currently sit at 49-54, 8.5 games out of first place in the NL East. Phillies ace pitchers have had a rough time this year: staff ace Cole Hamels is 4-13 with a 4.09 ERA, and 2010 Cy Young winner Roy Halladay has been out since May after undergoing shoulder surgery (not to mention his 8.65 ERS in 7 games). The only bright light on the Phillies staff has been Cliff Lee (10-4, 3.05 ERA), who remains the subject of trade rumors before next week’s trade deadline.

The signing of Gonzalez is surprising for the Phillies. General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. continues to remain optimistic about the Phillies season despite the team’s recent slide. Three teams stand between Philadelphia and the last Wild Card spot in the National League. Players like Chase Utley and Cliff Lee could be on their way out of Philadelphia soon. Without substantial improvement from the pitching staff, Amaro could be forced to sell and rebuild.

That’s where Gonzalez comes in. He has constantly impressed scouts in his baseball career. He succeeded as a star pitcher in the Cuban National Series, and succeeded again when he arrived in Mexico. At 26, Gonzalez would be one of the youngest pitchers on the Phillies roster. He will start in the Phillies minor league system (likely Triple-A Lehigh Valley) before being called up in mid-August, according to team sources. Not much is certain about Gonzalez’s future, but the addition of the Cuban star is still great news for a subpar team.

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