Yoenis Cespedes a talent and a mystery
Jerry Crasnick [ARCHIVE]
December 3, 2011
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Republic. A National League scout called it a bit of a "dog and pony show,'' but said that Cespedes acquitted himself well.

"He didn't look intimidated or scared or any of that,'' the scout said. "He looked like he was having fun, actually.''

ESPN.com solicited opinions on Cespedes from three talent evaluators -- the first two who attended his workout -- and got the following responses:

- "Physically this guy is everything you would want in an athlete,'' said an American League scouting director. "Does he have home run strength? Yes. Does he have running speed? Yes. Is he explosive? Yes. He has a good first step, and it looks like he can field at an above-average level. The arm is good, not great. It's going to come down to his ability to hit for average, because that's going to allow some of that raw strength to come into play.''

- "He's physically comparable to a guy like Bo Jackson,'' said the NL scout. "He's a powerfully built kid and very athletic. He's an outstanding kid with some aptitude, so maybe he's a guy you hit on. I just want better odds for $50 million. You're betting more on the come at 26 years old than you want to. We have no guarantees with this stuff, and that's the problem. If I'm spending that kind of money, I need to have the odds reduced somehow, and it's impossible with these guys. With the Japanese players, I think you get a little better gauge. People see those guys play in a lot more games, and even the track record there is not that good. We're a lot more up in the air with this 'Cuban aura.'"

Finally, there was this email from a front-office man with a National League club:

- "He's a five-tool, high-ceiling guy with some concerns about his swing and miss,'' the executive said. "He's more likely to hit 30 homers than hit .300 and probably compares best to somebody like Cameron Maybin, but with more power if less range and speed. He's stronger and more stocky and may end up on an outfield corner in a few years, but for now he can play center field … For a club like the Yankees or Boston who can afford those investments [and are both predominately left-handed], he makes some sense.''

As an added bonus, Cespedes has major league genes. His mother, Estela Milanes, was a pitcher on Cuba's 2000 Olympic softball team. By all accounts, he has a strong work ethic and a zest for the game that transcends the lure of all those dollars and cents.

"He's very grounded,'' Gayo said. "His reason for playing is to be good. A lot of these guys just want to get paid. He's not like that. He wants to be good.''

For the amount of money he's seeking, Cespedes better be very good. The journey is under way, and as each day goes by he moves a step closer from "Yoenis Cespedes: The Showcase'' to a new life in The Show.

Jerry Crasnick is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Click here to purchase a copy of his book, "License to Deal," published by Rodale. Crasnick can be reached via email.

Follow Jerry Crasnick on Twitter @jcrasnick.
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