The Braves’ increased emphasis on international scouting has paid off with an agreement to terms with Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano, who’ll get a major league contract according to a person familiar with the situation.
Toscano, 25, hits and throws left-handed and could help the Braves as a fourth outfielder this season, though he would probably need some time in the high minor leagues initially. He batted .356 with a .420 OBP, six extra-base hits (no homers) and 16 RBIs in 32 games in Cuba’s National Series in 2013, his last season in the league.
In five seasons in the National Series, Toscano had a .300 average and .396 OBP with seven triples and 13 homers in 614 at-bats.
“We’re getting close to getting a deal done,” said Braves president of baseball operations John Hart, who didn’t want to elaborate before the agreement became official.
Toscan hasn’t hit for much power in the past, but has reportedly gotten stronger and in better overall shape since leaving Cuba. Since he never played for the Cuban National team, he was seen by relatively few scouts compared to some recent Cuban free-agent signees.
Since Hart replaced fired general manager Frank Wren, the Braves have overhauled their international scouting department, bringing in acclaimed international scout Gordon Blakeley, along with Marc Russo and Mike Silvestri, and made it a mission to check out every promising player available in the international market.
Listed at 5 feet 10 and 200 pounds, Toscano has played primarily left field and some right field. He probably profiles best in left field or possibly center, given his good range but average (or below) arm strength.
Contract figures weren’t immediately known, but Baseball America, which first reported the signing, said that Toscano’s signing won’t count against the Braves’ international signing-pool bonus because he played five seasons in the Serie Nacional (National Series).
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