Confusing Juan Yasser Serrano with José A. Contreras

JYSerrano2.JPGA posting in yesterday’s Miami Nuevo Herald, also carried on-line by ESPN Deportes (March 31, 2009), announced agent Jaime Torres’s latest miraculous find, recent Cuban “defector” Juan Yasser Serrano. Serrano, who recently arrived in Miami after his “escape” from Cuba last month, is being sold to an unsuspecting public by the unscrupulous Torres, at least according this latest news report, as one of the most distinguished ballplayers in Cuba” and also as “one of the best Cubans who has ever arrived here” (“unos de los prospectos cubanos de mejor nivel que jámas haya venido aqui”). Obviously Mr. Torres knows something that Cuban baseball fans, league officials, and opposition batters do not. In reality what Jaime Torres knows is that he can distribute whatever outrageous falsehoods he wishes about his Cuban “prospects” and no one stateside will ever know the difference. Some salivating GM will most likely take him at his word and throw a million-dollar-plus contract at his latest second-coming of José Contreras or Omar Linares.


The stark truth (known by all close followers of Cuban baseball) is that Juan Yasser Serrano was a rather mediocre Cuban Leaguer whose 2007-2008 record was a below average 2-7 won-lost mark, further diminished by an elevated 6.46 ERA and a hefty .312 opponents’ batting average against his deliveries. And this, while hurling for one of the league’s very best teams, Villa Clara. Serrano’s three-year lifetime mark entering the current campaign was 14-16, with a 4.40 ERA for a club that captured division titles in all three seasons he labored there. It is hard to imagine a young prospect as being one of the most notable talents on the island when last season he posted the third worst ERA on his own team’s 15-man pitching staff.


Of course, such distortions from agent Torres are hardly anything new or in any way much of a surprise. Last fall this same agent peddled Villa Clara third base prospect Dayan Viciedo as a national team star and likely the best player to debut in the Cuban League since Omar Linares. The reality in that case was that Viciedo was neither a national team player nor even a league all-star at his third base position. Nor had he finished the previous campaign among the 60-plus Cuban Leaguers batting over .300. Viciedo was assuredly a genuine prospect with a possible major league future; but he was also a stagnating young player whose numbers had slid considerably after his promising rookie campaign and who was plagued by both poor physical conditioning and a highly questionable work ethical. Viciedo may well have a big league future, yet he is neither Linares nor even Alexei Ramírez, and already has been dispatched this spring to the Chicago White Sox minor league camp for some much-needed seasoning.


In the current case of Serrano, the fabrications put out by Torres in his recent Nuevo Herald interview are even more egregious than in the case of Viciedo. Let’s cite only two relevant examples of “propaganda in search of a fat contract through deception and distortion.” In the Nuevo Herald article penned by Jorge Ebro (who obviously did not do any fact checking on this one) it is claimed that Serrano teamed with Dayan Viciedo on the Cuban junior national team that won the 2007 Mexico-based Pan American Games, and furthermore that Serrano played a major role in a 2-1 championship victory over Team USA. This is an outright falsehood since Juan Y. Serrano was not even on that particular junior level (sub-18 years old) national squad. The Villa Clara hurler was already 19 at the time and thus too old to be eligible for the 2007 “juveniles” squad. The actual score of the reported game was 3-2 (a minor discrepancy) and the actual winning pitcher was Serrano’s Villa Clara teammate Freddy Asiel Alvarez (a major discrepancy), a player one year younger than the said Serrano. (Be it noted as an aside here that Freddy Alvarez might well be a more promising prospect than Serrano, given his better record last season in Villa Clara and his younger age.)


But it gets far worse (especially the issue of fact checking on the part of Jorge Ebro, who apparently is just as unscrupulous as a journalist as Torres is as a player agent). Straining for stardom by association, Torres reports (and Ebro repeats) that this 2007 Mexico gold medal Pan American squad that Serrano supposedly belonged to (but did not actually) featured a staff led by two current stars on the recent Cuban World Baseball Classic roster, ace lefty starter Aroldis Chapman of Holguín and top righty closer Vladimir Garcia of Ciego de Avila. Here we have falsehood piled on top of falsehood. Neither Chapman nor García were on that team, as again both were one year beyond eligibility for the 18-and-under squad. The actual lefty ace on that 2007 team was not at all Chapman but rather former Habana Province prospect Noel Arguelles.


How much longer will general managers of big league clubs continue to put up with the distortions that Jaime Torres insists on peddling in the name of top dollar contracts for overvalued talent? Certainly some of the players leaving the island of late–such as Santiago first baseman/outfielder Jose Julio Ruíz, who was one of last season’s league leaders in both stolen bases and base hits–are genuine prospects with professional futures. But why not honestly market them for what they are. (Don’t tell me, I know. You don’t make as much money that way.) Not only are Torres’s abuses of the facts a great disservice to the actual realities of Cuban League baseball (something I am certain Torres cares nothing about) but they are also a very sad statement on the current status of major league baseball scouting and recruitment. It’s long past time to start setting the record straight. And with several good websites (try now available for updated information of Cuban League baseball, there is no longer much excuse for GMs or scouts pleading ignorance about the true credentials of departing Cuban Leaguers.


  1. katsumoto

    when you want to know anything about Cuban baseball you ask me..Cubanbaseball or the best of the best..Peter Bjarkman..i never heard of Juan Yasser Serrano as being top 20 pitchers in Cuba…Marti is a is is Chapman..who’s raw still, but in two years, you are looking at probably the best LHP in baseball with no limits in how many games can he win…this may be the guy who destroys Marichal’s, Tiant’s and Martinez legacy of most wins as a latin pitcher..if he can pitch 12/15 years…if this kid learns how to really pitch..he can win 25 a year.
    about Ruiz..I know who he is…he is a hitting machine…always left out of Team you know why…in Cuba , people know everything..who’s defecting..who’s not happy…you cant even tell your mother that you are leaving in the next tournament ..unfortunaly that’s the way it is…by the way…there are over 60 players in Cuba ready for MLB..i watch baseball daily..if Michel Hernandez is a pro, and Brayan what league should we had send. to play Juan Castro, Ricardo Lazo, Gerardo Egues, Alberto Martinez, Lazaro Perez, Pedro Medina, Merino, Pestano, Bello, Peraza, De la Rosa…same with Ramirez , Escobar and Betancourt…(jova, Puente,Mesa,Paret,Arias and about 5 that are in Cuba at the moment..and lets not talk about power players like Munoz, Gourriell,Casanova,Linares, Kindelan, Marquetti, Mancebo, blandino, Mesa, cheito, sixto, Urquiola, isasi, anglada, pacheco…to name just a few

  2. katsumoto

    I got more…Laffita, wifredo S, F sanchez, mendez, padilla, linares, oliva, Cuevas, Osorio, montejo, junco….Videaux..and then current 25 man roster another 30 or more..the players MLB missed in this 50 years is a sad story…because Cuba could have by now, another 5 HOF…easy…plus records up the gazzooo..without roids…!
    look at Kendry….in his first full year..23 homers already…and we haven’t even touch that pitchers…..Cuba still the best latin source of baseball..despite the dominicans having Baseball universities and crap..we still the best….watch cuba have over 60/70 major leaguers and dominicana go down to 30 in the next 5 years …..right now..there are over 15 cuban players almost ready to jump to the big leagues…in AAA or F.Agents…what happens is that the young talent see this guys making $$$$ and they want that too…Fidel was very smart not to send the first team to Rotterdam..he knew there were going to de some defections…the WBC is diff, there are 25 G-2 agents around the players at all times..these guys are trained assassins..they know judo, karate… have to kill them to defect…but to rotterdam they dont send soo many…because is not the prize team..this was a second to third string team..and they won!

  3. katsumoto

    ok here we go one more time….Juan Yasser Serrano Fernandez Vautie…20 years old….pitched for the Villa clara team who played the Havana vaqueros for the cuban series…at the end of the Cuban season he is not even listed on the first 38 best Cuban pitchers, but that doesnt mean he is not a bad prospect..he could be be a great prospect…remenber this.Cubanbaseball is very strong..the only league stronger than the Cuban is MLB , Japan maybe and Korea at the same level…also remenber we are talking about an island of 12mm people againts super countries like us and japan, even korea is huge.and powerfull as a country….the 1b Ruiz finish #76 in hitters out of the 84 listed..batting .305 which in cuba is not really an i said there are 75 better averages…he doesnt have power like Kendry..or miranda…or Alonso..Limonta…Canizares…
    the real pros here are the other 3 ..Marti, Yasser Gomez and Aroldis Chapman…
    the home run monster in Cuba is Alfredo Despaigne who just hit 32 homers in 320 AB’s..Wow…Cespedes, Bell, gourriell, Bello and others are stars, those are the ones we need here…if you want to know who are the best..go by the team they send to the BWC…plus some others that were left behind like Garlobo, Pedroso (best pitcher in Cuba ) Chapman went 11-4he did very very good..
    I think…Aroldis can win 20 games next year..if pitching for a decent team…hopefully for the LAA or LAD….California is the place..not NY for Cubans to play…SD, Oakland…SF…maybe tampa ..Miami’s politics are too weird for them..none wants miami..believe me…

  4. katsumoto

    Back to the yasser Serrano issue, ok…he may not be top quality like the pitchers we are used to..Contreras, Livan, Duque and now Marti and Chapman…but..look at MLB supposedely the top league in the world(not to me, not untill the best from Cuba, Japan, Korea, australia and Curazao are playing here)then you can call it the best…do you know how many mediocre pitchers are pitching in MLB today..a lot of them…and listen..they still in the majors…
    and players..? lets me give you a couple of little examples
    Tony Clark…how in the world is this guy a major leaguer…and for what? 15/17 years!!!! with an lifetime average of like .225
    my opinion…his dad is connected.
    Eduardo Perez…Tany’s son…are you kidding me…?
    if he played for almost 15 years or more in the many Cuban players since the 1960’s could have made it to the majors…Do I need to give you people the list …again?
    I will pass om that…they are way way too many…an Idea..?
    Add 25 players for every major team Cuba had in those 50 years…then add the “B” team….then Add the one;s that were Discriminated for neing Ugly, or fat..or just undisciplined…and then add 25 more question marks..and that is how many players Cuba could have had in those 50 years plus the 225 we actually have or passed by MLB…this 225 doesnt included those 5 free agents…
    by the way Kendry Morales is becoming a really really solid slugger…watch out Palmeiro/Canseco/Oliva/Perez/L gonzalez and Ibanez…here comes Van Van…5 for 5 yesterday…2 homers 2 doubles a single 6 rBI;s….
    308 average..just a monster of a hitter…he’ll pass Tany Perez in a blink of an homers…(379 ) in the next…10 years or less……i am expecting Kendry to hit, somewhere between 35-40 homers in his full season….wihch none of the Cuban’s greats did in the najors…not in their first full year…and …whithout Steroids!
    Van van or BamBamfron the pica piedras is going to be a star…wihch he already was at 16…..Cuban officilas weren’t wrong, when they tagg him a star…like Linares…

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