The Pirates signed Cesar Lopez, a Cuban pitcher, back in September, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reported today (h/t: Pirates Prospects). Apparently the deal is waiting on Lopez’s visa, which sometimes takes a while for Cuban defectors (they have to establish citizenship in another country before they can get a US visa).
It’s a big signing bonus, too, at $600,000. The Pirates haven’t signed a Cuban player since the Yoslan Herrerra experiment back in the late days of the Dave Littlefield era. Lopez isn’t qute the same thing as a Herrera, though, as he’s just 20 years old. Still, it’s a second big Latin American signing for the Pirates this winter and a little more proof that they’re making progress in that part of the world.
It’s hard to know much else at this point (I’ll see if I can dig up any stats, but it’s hard to find Cuban League stats and I he’s likely too young to have pitched in the last WBC), but given his age there’s a decent chance that if the visa issues get resolved we could see him somewhere around West Virginia or Bradenton in 2011, though State College is also a possibility if his defection has created a long layoff.