clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Céspedes to Chicago is official

Rough timeline could have the right fielder on the South Side on Opening Day 2022

Brett Ballantini started at South Side Sox in 2018 after 20 years of writing on basketball, baseball and hockey, including time on the Blackhawks and White Sox beats. Follow him on Twitter @BrettBallantini and email your site feedback to

More than three weeks ago, we brought you the news that MLB’s No. 1 international prospect, Yoelqui Céspedes, would be signing with the White Sox this month.

We did not lie.

Both Céspedes and Marco Paddy spoke to the media on Friday, saying about what you’d expect. Paddy does see Céspedes as near MLB-ready due to his Cuban playing experience.

“I can’t tell you exactly how close or far I am from the majors,” NBC’s Vinnie Duber quoted Céspedes as saying. “But I think, with time in the minors, I’m going to be able to develop and show what I can do. We’ll see how long that’s going to take, but I’m confident in myself.”

And from Paddy: ““From a baseball standpoint, he’s very close. He’s advanced, he knows how to play the game ... Combined with his Cuban experience, he’s very advanced ... He’s very close to the major leagues.”

Here’s the full/copyedited White Sox release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, January 15, 2021


CHICAGO — The Chicago White Sox have agreed to terms, including a $2.05-million signing bonus, with Cuban outfielder Yoelqui (yo-EL-key) Céspedes.

Céspedes, 23, played four seasons (2015-19) for Granma in the Cuban Serie Nacional (Cuban National Series), Cuba’s top-level league. The 5´9´´, 200-pound Céspedes is rated by MLB Pipeline as the No. 1 international prospect.

Céspedes hit .287/.351/.415 with 35 doubles, 10 triples, 12 home runs, 98 RBIs, 114 runs scored and 14 stolen bases in 226 career games with Granma. He debuted with the team in 2015 at age 17, and is a two-time Cuban Serie Nacional champion, winning the league title in 2017 and 2018.

”Yoelqui has worked extremely hard to put himself in this situation,” said Marco Paddy, White Sox special assistant to the general manager for international operations. “He has the ability to play all three outfield positions with above-average defense, line-to-line hitting ability with power to all fields, and running instincts to steal and stretch singles into doubles.”

Céspedes, who bats and throws right-handed, hit .319/.355/.389 with five doubles, seven RBIs and four runs scored over 21 games in 2018-19, his final season with Granma.

The Manzanillo, Cuba native played with the Cuban National Team in the Caribbean Series (2016-18), World Baseball Classic (2017) and Canadian-American Association (2017, 2019), a professional, independent league in the Northeast United States and Eastern Canada. He is the younger half-brother of major-league outfielder Yoenis Céspedes.

The White Sox expect additional international signings in the coming weeks.

The earlier story we ran, sans the Paddy quote, was more compelling and informative than this release. However, there is a point of intrigue with that last line, given the rest of the class was not announced.

Of course, Norge Vera is the other plum of the White Sox international class (in fact per FanGraphs slotting in much higher among White Sox prospects than Céspedes, which is a bit contrarian to say the least). There’s no sense of whether the White Sox just want to give Vera his own day sometime next week, or if there are any true snags in the process.

But we expect to hear from Vera soon, as well as get the details on the rest of the class.