Before the 2012 Major League Baseball season, a 26-year-old Cuban prospect named Yoenis Cespedes signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the Oakland Athletics. Cespedes had a tremendous rookie season with 23 home runs and 82 runs batted in. He finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting to some young 20-year-old named Mike Trout. Cespedes followed up his great rookie season with another solid season in 2013 with 26 home runs and 80 runs batted in.
During the All-Star break at Citi Field last season, Cespedes took the Home Run Derby over with 17 home runs in the first round. Cespedes went on to defeat the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper in the Home Run Derby Finals.
Although Cespedes has been fairly solid in his first two-plus years out on The Bay, his slash line numbers fell from .296/.356/.505 in 2012, to .240/.294/.442 in 2013, while playing three different position for the A’s.
Before this current season began, the Chicago White Sox signed a powerhouse named Jose Abreu from Cienfuegos, Cuba. Abreu signed with the Sox for $68 million over the next six seasons. In the 13-13 start to 2014 for the White Sox, Abreu leads the entire league in home runs (10) and runs batted in (31). In just a short time, Jose Abreu has gone from an unknown Cuban prospect with loads of power to the next Frank Thomas.
Cespedes has been one of the top players in Cuba’s Serie Nacional since his rookie year in 2003-2004, when he hit .302/.382/.503 for Granma as an 18-year-old. He tied Jose Abreu for the Serie Nacional lead with 33 home runs during the 2010-2011 season, breaking Alfredo Despaigne’s single-season home run record of 32, and led the league with 99 RBIs. -Ben Badler, BaseballAmerica.com, November 10th, 2011
I’ve stated before that it’s completely unfair to compare Jose Abreu to one of the greatest hitters of the last 30 years. Frank Thomas became a Hall-of-Famer during his 15-plus years on the South Side of Chicago.
Thomas was a five-time All-Star and was the first player since Roger Maris in 1960 and 1961 to win back-to-back American League Most Valuable Player Awards in 1993 and 1994.
In the current days of comparison all over the sporting world, comparing these two Cuban prospects is intriguing because they both are approaching their prime years. It’s not as exciting as the Harper/Trout debate, but it’s got the potential to become a good debate.
Yoenis Cespedes at the 26-game mark of his rookie season in Oakland:
26 games in CF, .250/.324/.458 slash line with five home runs and 20 RBI’s.
Jose Abreu at the 26-game mark of his rookie season in Chicago:
24 games at 1B, 1 appearance as a PH and 1 game as a DH, .260/.330/.631 slash line with 10 home runs and 31 RBI’s.
Over the past weekend, Abreu had a weekend to remember. In three games against the Tampa Bay Rays, Abreu went 5-for-13 with three home runs, including a walk-off grand slam on Friday night. On Sunday afternoon, Abreu broke Albert Pujols‘ MLB record for most runs batted in as a rookie in the month of April. He was named Co-AL Player of the Week with Seattle Mariners infielder Kyle Seager on Monday.
Oh, and Abreu has three more games left in the opening month of the season.