Shohei Ohtani was a sensation when he came to the majors in 2018 because the Japanese star is a rare two-way player who can both hit and pitch well. While he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations due to injury, there could be another two-way player coming to Major League Baseball soon, and some are calling him the Cuban Ohtani. MLB prospect Oscar Colas has defected from Cuba and has a major league contract in his sights.
He is expected to sign with a team this summer, and this is why his name is worth knowing before then. So how good could he be?
Who is Oscar Colas?
Colas is a 21-year-old Cuban who some people are calling one of Cuba’s best prospects in years. He’s 6’1″ and weighs 209, so he has a nice-sized body for the game.
He has played professionally in Cuba — he began his career at 17 — and Japan. Colas didn’t pitch in Japan, but he hit .320 with a .350 on-base percentage and a .516 slugging percentage in 66 games, which are good numbers if he can carry them over into the majors.
ESPN reports that Colas, who pitches as a left-hander, has a 95-mph fastball. Being so young means there is still room for improvement in his performance as he gains more experience and learns more about the game, especially as he competes against other major leaguers.
When is Oscar Colas likely to sign with a MLB team?
Now that he has defected from Cuba, Colas is closer to being able to sign with a team. Before that can happen, he has to establish residency in another country before coming to the United States.
After that, MLB will clear Colas and he will be able to sign with a team. But don’t expect him to sign anytime soon. Teams are given a certain amount of international signing money each year, and as we approach the start of spring training, most teams have already used most of their allotment for the current period.
Every team’s international signing money will reset in July, which is when most analysts think Colas will sign. If he waits he will be able to maximize his potential earnings. Teams will have more money to offer Colas once the international money resets, which could set off more of a bidding war than would happen in the near-term when many teams are nearly out of money to spend on international free agents.
Without as extensive of a body of work as some international players have when they come to Major League Baseball, teams who bid for Colas’ services may be doing it more on potential than they would in other circumstances, where there’s more of a track record to look at.
What teams could be in the hunt?
Any team can sign Oscar Colas, but like with any free agent — international or otherwise — there are some teams that are more likely to go after him than others. The White Sox are the frontrunners to land Colas in many people’s eyes.
They have a history of signing Cuban players, with Yuan Moncada, Luis Robert, and Jose Abreu on the current roster. Bringing Colas onto a team that already has several of his fellow countrymen may help ease the transition to a new league and country, as he tries to adjust to a different way of life in America than he is used to in Cuba.
The Angels are also being linked to Colas. That is an interesting possibility given that they signed Ohtani, so inking Colas to a deal would give the Angels two two-way players on their roster, which would give them a strong amount of flexibility when constructing their lineup for each of their 162 games.