Top Cuban Pitching Prospect Headline A’s New International Signings

Luis Morales with family and A's executives
Cuban RHP Luis Morales poses with A's execs as one of the team's new int'l signings. (h/t @Athletics on Twitter)

(OAKLAND)-After making the splash by inking a deal with sought-after Japanese hurler Shintaro Fujinami, the A’s sign deals with more overseas prospects, with two of them ranked in the MLB’s Top International Prospects.

Oakland announced Monday it had signed 17 international prospects, which included Cuban right-hander Luis Morales, the fifth-best international prospect by MLB.com, and Dominican outfielder Darling Fernandez, the no. 40-ranked aspirant. They currently have a bonus signing pool amounting to $6,366,900.

Morales, hailing from Antilla, Cuba, last played in 2021 for Sancti Spiritus in Serie Nacional before defecting from the country to train with the Cuban U-23 team in Mexico. Before that, the 20-year-old youngster was the best teenage pitcher on the island, striking out a record 161 batters in 82 2/3 innings pitched from 2019 to 2020.

Viewed as a lock at the starting rotation, he carries a fastball sitting at 94-97 mph and has developed secondary pitches, including a slider, changeup, and curveball. Part of his pitching prowess is attributed to training in Mexico with former Cuban national team standout and Olympian Maels Rodriguez.

Meanwhile, the 17-year-old fresh bat Fernandez has with him developing power and has a hit-first approach while continuing to develop his outfield arm and baserunning, attributes that will only improve as he matures. While he is expected to patrol the corner outfield at best, he can also play all OF positions.

Per sources, Morales snags a contract north of seven figures, while Fernandez signs for around $1 million.

Other prospects in the mix included pure-hitting Venezuelan catcher Ramón Landaeta, shortstops Reinaldo De La Cruz, Jesus Fernandez, and Jesus Superlano, righties Alvin Veras and Freilyn Guzman from the Dominican Republic, and Paul Chacon from Venezuela.

Ivan Reña

Oakland Athletics beat writer for Inside the Diamonds.

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