November 9, 2011
Scouting Cespedes Aftermath
It was easy to write 4,000 words on a video as remarkable as the Yoenis Cespedes showcase video that was posted on Sunday night. It took the internet by storm, showed up on Deadspin (among many other places), and basically went viral.
Then it was gone.
It disappeared on Monday afternoon, but luckily, a loyal reader saved it and re-published it on YouTube, where it is quickly approaching 10,000 views. Then, Tuesday morning, a new version of it was put up by Edgar Mercedes, the Dominican-based advisor and president of Born To Play, one of the leading academies in the area. You can see the original here and the edited version here. Gone from the new version is the rap music and the roasting pig, among other things. I emailed Mercedes on Monday, and he got back to me yesterday, offering to speak with me on the phone.
“We liked the article,” he said, without a hint of sarcasm. “I just wanted scouts to see it. I didn't expect somebody to write 4,000 words about it. I wanted to generate attention for Yoenis, but not like this.”
The first thing I asked Mercedes was why the original video was removed. “Some people were offended by the lyrics, like you wrote,” said Mercedes. “But so many people were offended by the pig,” he expressed, referring to the final shot of Cespedes stoking the fire under a roasting whole pig. “That's part of our culture and part of our community. We roast pigs. I've been to tailgate parties in the United States and seen big pieces of meat on the grill. We just tried to show that he's a family guy and spending time in his backyard with friends and family. We weren't trying to offend anyone.”
Mercedes put the video together himself, “It's just me and the trainers; Wasserman Media had nothing to do with it,” he said, referring to the home of Adam Katz, who will be representing Cespedes in negotiations. “We wanted something new; a player like this has never left Cuba. You make a normal scout video, and people say 'ho-hum.'”
Originally shown at a showcase in the Dominican Republic, Mercedes intended to create something that would allow potential suitors to learn more about Cespedes. “With Cuban players, people don't have access to what they're all about,” Mercedes explained. “You can't talk to them and often can't even watch them practice, and when they're not at the field, they're stuck in their hotels because they are still living in the Cold War.”
Mercedes was also able to explain the emphasis on physical conditioning over video of Cespedes doing what he will ultimately be paid to do: play baseball. “Scouts tell me they've seen 50, maybe 70 at-bats and they know him on the field,” he said. “We wanted to show that he's left Cuba, and he's working harder than he's ever had in his life. We wanted to show that he's in the best shape of his life, because when he first came here, he wasn't.”
Mercedes even took the time to clear up one of the great mysteries of the video—the strange and sudden appearance of former NFL star Ahman Green at the end. To explain, he handed the phone over to Chris Wray, who has been training Cespedes in the Dominican. “Ahman Green is a good friend who was brought down for two weeks to show Yoenis the motivation required to succeed at the highest level,” said Wray. “Yoenis really looks up to him now.”
There's more good news, as Mercedes revealed that Yoenis's mother, Estela, a former star pitcher for the national softball team of Cuba, was with him. “She is so important to him,” expressed Mercedes, who has worked with many Cuban players. “He's the only player I know of that defected with his mother.”
What's next for Cespedes is a series of workouts for big league clubs. “We should have his paperwork taken care of this month, and then Adam Katz can do his work,” said Mercedes. “I'm confident that he'll be in spring training with a major league club.”
Mercedes confirmed that the Marlins are bringing in a large contingent to see Cespedes work out on Thursday and that the Yankees, Red Sox Phillies, Indians, Blue Jays, and Pirates will also be visiting in the coming weeks, with more teams expected to be added to the fray. As for the money aspect, with rumors already starting that he'll easily eclipse Aroldis Chapman's $30 million deal with Cincinnati, Mercedes is coy. “I just arrange the tryouts; Adam takes care of the negotiations.”
And yes, there will be more opportunity for everyone to see Cespedes in action. “There will be more video,” said Mercedes, laughing. “We will put video of the actual workouts up.”
As for the style of video, “Do you want more of my Oscar-winning editing?” joked Mercedes.
Yes, Edgar. Yes, we do.