Last November, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a huge splash in free agency when they signed Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas to a six-year, $68.5 million contract.
All 30 Major League Baseball teams were in attendance for a showcase where Tomas showed what he has to offer, but the Diamondbacks came out on top on the bidding war for the foreign slugger.
With the Diamondbacks’ moving Martin Prado to the New York Yankees last year, Tomas could see some playing time at the hot-corner, but will most likely see a majority of time as an outfielder. He will soon learn to love the short porch in left field as he will be knocking pitches out there on a regular basis.
According to Baseball America, Tomas was a top-10 prospect out of Cuba and scored a 70 on the raw power scale that ranges from 20-80.
Tomas played for the Cuban national team in 2013 during the World Baseball Classic, but all eyes were on Jose Abreu who had a .360 batting average and smacked three home runs in just six games. In comparison, Tomas had two home runs and hit .375 in the tournament.
The real question comes down to this… Can Tomas duplicate Abreu’s 2014 rookie season with the Chicago White Sox?
Abreu, the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year and AL Silver Slugger winner, had a tremendous campaign to begin his Major League career. He won the AL Rookie of the Month Award in April, June and July and also won AL Player of the Month Award in April and July. He was named to the AL All-Star team in July as well.
The 6’3” slugger smacked the third most home runs in the AL with 36 bombs, was fifth in the AL in batting average as he batted .317, led the AL with a .581 slugging percentage, and was second in on-base plus slugging with a .964 clip.
As if his offensive statistics weren’t eye-popping enough, Abreu also shone on defense. He posted a .994 fielding percentage, while turning 105 double-plays which led the AL. His range factor per nine innings at first base was also first in the AL with a 9.77.
If Tomas is to repeat what Abreu did last year, the Diamondbacks management will be a very happy crew for landing Tomas for just over $10 million per year. The two Cuban mashers have drawn comparisons continuously throughout their foreign careers and Tomas may have a leg up on Abreu in the long run…
Tomas will enter the 2015 season as a 24-year-old rookie, which is a realistic age for a rookie to begin his big league career. Abreu was a rookie at 27-years-old, which is typically right around the time where players hit their prime.
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Who knows if Abreu will slip offensively this year as a part of the “sophomore slump”, but Tomas will have a few years to show that he can reach his full potential that the Diamondbacks’ management think he possesses.
As a potential middle-of-the-lineup hitter, Tomas will have plenty of opportunities to knock in runs with A.J. Pollock, Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo likely hitting above him in the typical lineup.
Goldschmidt was fourth in the National League in doubles in 2014 and scored 75 runs, good for 23rd in the NL (led the Diamondbacks), in just 109 games. With Tomas batting two slots below Goldschmidt there could be plentiful opportunities to bring his teammate in to score.
To be honest, I don’t see Tomas replicating Abreu’s amazing season from last year, but I do think that Diamondbacks fans will genuinely appreciate his steady bat in the lineup day-in and day-out.
Prediction for Tomas in 2015: .264 batting average, .313 on-base percentage, 22 home runs, 82 runs batted in.