Erisbel Arruebarruena is out of Cuba and suddenly a top MLB prospect.
The 23-year-old has defected from Cuba and taken up residence in Haiti, and is expected to become a free agent by the end of the year.
The shortstop is known for his defensive prowess and strong play on the international circuit, standing out for Cuba in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
In a Baseball America story on Arruebarruena, writer Ben Badler notes:
“At 6 feet, 195 pounds, Arruebarruena has clean hands, quick actions and good body control. He’s a below-average runner, but his quick first step and instincts give him good range. He has a quick transfer and a plus-plus arm with accuracy, which allows him to make throws from deep in the hole and turn 4-6-3 double plays with ease. His awareness in the field is advanced and he’s shown the ability to make the barehanded play look routine and make strong throws from different angles.”
To become an MLB free agent, Erisbel Arruebarruena must first petition for free agency from Major League Baseball and receive clearance from the United States office of Foreign Assets Control. The process can take a few weeks.
Erisbel Arruebarruena is not the only top prospect to defect from Cuba recently. Right-handed pitcher Raciel Iglesias also left his home nation and has taken steps toward becoming a free agent
A handful of other promising players have defected recently, including catcher Yenier Bello, right-handed pitcher Rogelio Armenteros, and first baseman Yozzen Cuesta.
It is unclear where Erisbel Arruebarruena would fit in with a MLB team. While he has shown great defensive ability, scouts say he also has a tendency to overreach for plays. Cuban baseball expert and author Peter Bjarkman notes that in Cuba he is known as Errorbarruena as a result. Despite the troubles, Erisbel Arruebarruena is already a big target for many teams.