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December 19, 2011

Future Shock

Exclusive First Look: Yoenis Cespedes Encore

by Kevin Goldstein

Last month, the Yoenis Cespedes video took the world by storm, so imagine my excitement when Edgar Mercedes, the producer of the video and president of the Born To Play Academy in the Dominican Republic, e-mailed me this week to let me know that the sequel was finished and would be available soon. To be fair, Mercedes and his group have had a wonderful sense of humor about the video and the fallout, and he relayed some basic information to me in a phone call. The new video is 28 minutes, is more baseball-related, includes video from Cespedes' heavily-attended showcase, as well as some private workouts and “a surprise at the end.”

Getting away from the fun, Mercedes also told me that he is hoping Cespedes will have his Dominican residency taken care of in the coming days. The latest delay stems from a photo snafu: front and side shots of Cespedes, submitted to the Dominican government for processing purposes, feature the outfielder wearing different clothes, which is not allowed. Unfortunately, Dominican residency is just the first bit of a three-part process. Next, he'll have to be cleared by Major League Baseball, which should take another two to three days, and because Cespedes is Cuban, the United States government gets involved, as he has to be cleared to sign by OFAC, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, a division of the treasury office. United States businesses and individuals are not allowed to enter into any business arrangements (including baseball contracts) with Cuban companies or individuals under current law, so distinguishing Cespedes as a Dominican could take an additional 10-15 days after MLB declares him a free agent. That pushes the opening of his signing window into January, but interest remains sky high, so he'll certainly be signed in time for spring training. Cespedes is “anxious. He says he wants to play baseball for real,” relays Mercedes. “He wants to play in a game that counts for something.”

For now, all we have is video. Thinking about prominent indie filmmakers, Wes Anderson took a step backward in his second film with Rushmore, while Paul Thomas Anderson created a masterpiece with Boogie Nights. Where will Mercedes go? Let's watch together. The diary you watch was kept during my first viewing of the video, as I want to be as surprised as you.

0:00: As always, we start with the credits, and the logos of Mercedes' Born To Play Acadamy and Christopher Wray's Cyntergy Fitness. Interestingly enough, gone is the logo for Adam Katz's Wasserman Media, the agency that will handle Cespedes' US negotiation. After some quick pictures of Cespedes, including one of him wearing the tightest shirt in the history of mankind, we get going.

0:41: The Star Wars words are back! Excellent. Mercedes knows what works. He knows what we want, and how to deliver it. This time, while lacking the amazing voice of Kevin Cabral, we get a personal message from Yoenis. The message is addressed to "Teams, Coaches, Staff and GMs," which makes sense, but the message also goes out to “Legends,” which can be loosely translated in a variety of fashions. Bob Dylan, this one's for you. It's actually a very humble note from Cespedes about how he's not yet arrived and how far he still needs to go.

1:30: The Big Leagues Come to Cespedes! First up, the Miami Marlins. Is this a hint? Cespedes is a perfect fit for a team that has no real center fielder, is in a city with a large Cuban community, and is spending money like a terminally ill gambler who has been teleported to Las Vegas. The very first shot is Cespedes with Marlins owner Jeff Loria and new manager Ozzie Guillen. How am I not supposed to read into this? Is this letting us know Miami is in the lead, or is it a sell job to get Cespedes there? We'll know next month.

Then there's the Red Sox, as Cespedes stands with hitting coach Dave Magadan. Based on sources who have seen some of the workouts in the last month, Cespedes' bat is the only question mark, so it makes sense for Boston to send Magadan.

Hall of Famer Pat Gillick, who still advises the Phillies, is up next, and it basically looks like Cespedes had his own Winter Meetings without having to fly to Dallas. Of course, he still can't go to Dallas legally, but I digress.

Willie Horton is up next. The graphic tells us he was with the 1968 Tigers. A Tigers media guide tells me he's a special assistant to Dave Dombrowski.

Finally we get actual—albeit brief and shaky—video of Cespedes taking batting practice under the title of “Workout for Chicago Cubs GM and Staff.” There, in the corner, in silhouette only, is Theo Epstein. It's important to note who sent who to see Cespedes. The Cubs and the Marlins clearly came with big entourages and big names, but let's face it: A few days in Santiago beats December in the Midwest. Does Theo being there mean the Cubs are more interested than the Tigers? Easy to read into, hard to say.

2:06: Quote Time! As Peter Gammons tells you Cespedes is real, we see the outfielder stroke an RBI single in the World Baseball Classic against Mexico. I (!) tell you Cespedes has power and speed as he crushes a home run against South Africa. Jesse Sanchez tells you Yoenis is humble as he goes oppo against Australia.

3:33: Pro Day. This was the big showcase in the Dominican that every interested party attended. Every player except Cespedes is in white; he's in black so you can always find him. There are 200 scouts in attendance, and we see them all. I do a lot of freeze frames to see who I recognize. The first face in the crowd nearly everyone will recognize is Tony Pena.

4:48: Yoenis Goes to the Beach: Oh yeah, workout time. Not only that, but it's the return of former NFL star Ahman Green! Mercedes explained last month that Green is a friend of Cespedes' trainers and was brought in to help motivate the outfielder, but it's still weird to see the footballer. Exercises named after animals happen on the beach. Frog jumps, bear crawls, and behind the player is a girl who is either jumping with Cespedes, or doing failed handstands in the water. Either way, she steals the show.

5:40: The Jump: Mercedes makes his first editing gaffe, inserting the scene from the first video of Cespedes' ridiculous vertical leaping ability. Did Coppola throw scenes from The Godfather into The Godfather II? No, he did not, and there's a good reason for that. But wait, there is Cespedes setting a new personal best of 50 inches. I have problems going up 50 inches of stairs, so I'm impressed. You know what an even bigger highlight is? When the dude in the cap goes for a high-five and Cespedes totally leaves him hanging.

6:33: Field Work: You know what the best part of watching Cespedes run 60 yards in 6.41 seconds is? Watching him get ready to do it for 53 seconds. He kicks, bends, and stretches more than an Olympic sprinter, and we get every agonizing second of it. Manny Acta and Ozzie Guillen like what they see. Then I notice that above Cespedes' number, where you'd expect his name, is just his nickname, “La Potencia” (The Potential). Hubris. The video of the first-to-third speed drill is equally agonizing; the drill takes seconds, but again we are treated to nearly a minute of Cespedes pacing before it. It's not Boogie Nights as much as it's Magnolia, or as Salieri said in Amadeus, “too many notes.” The best thing about the vertical reach is not just the distance, but the comparisons to NBA stars. We have a sleeper in this year's dunk contest. I have no idea why anyone needs to watch Cespedes warm up to throw for 90 seconds, but his actual throwing drills are impressive, and show why his arm has earned 60-plus grades from scouts this winter.

13:30: Hitting: That's right folks, once again, you have to wait 810 seconds to get a good look at Yoenis hitting. Obviously, Mercedes and his team are only going to show the highlights from his batting practice session at Estadio Cibao, where the professional team in Santiago plays, but those highlights include some mammoth shots, with one home run leaving the stadium at a Mercedes-estimated 500-plus feet. Some scouts have put a 70 grade on Cespedes' power, and it is easy to see why. There is also evidence of some of the length and lunging in his swing that some are concerned about. It's hard to find a scout who has thrown a plus grade on Cespedes' hit tool, but even at 50, it's his lowest score of the five. Listed only as a right-handed hitter, Cespedes hits lefty at the 20:30 mark, accompanied by the graphic, “No He Didn't!” which tells me these guys watch ESPN News way too much. It's ugly, but on his fourth swing, the slugger hits a home run. Yes, these videos have been a blast, but at the same time, it's hard not to be impressed. What is most appreciated is that after the criticism of the lack of baseball last time, the viewer gets 10 minutes of hitting. I now know what Cespedes looks like, and feel that if I just saw an outline of his swing, I could identify the player.

24:02: The Credits: No new names at “Team Cespedes,” but as the video says “The End,” I look down and see there are still four minutes remaining. Last time we got dancing, we got Mom, we got roasting pigs in a Lynchian triptych of joy. Clearly Mercedes was up to something...

24:26: Epilogue: The Jarabacoa River. A rope. Men swimming. Yoenis Cespedes is a hero. Ahman Green's life is an danger, and there is a cliffhanger more alluring than who shot J.R.? I can't ruin it for you; it needs to been seen to be believed.

While not nearly as entertaining, Mercedes' latest contribution to the world of scouting video is certainly more informative. We have a much better feel for the player, and the ending is truly Mercedes' best work. I present to you, in all its glory, Yoenis Cespedes Encore.

Yoenis Cespedes Encore from Baseball2011DR on Vimeo.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

Related Content:  Yoenis Cespedes,  The Who,  First Month

36 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

rreading

I am more excited for the "surprise at the end"

Dec 16, 2011 23:43 PM
rating: 0
 
Hudson Belinsky

6:17 - Spectator attempts to high-five Cespedes, but fails.

Dec 16, 2011 23:59 PM
rating: 0
 
smallmanoncampus

Is anybody else having trouble with the sound? Or is my computer finally dying?

Dec 17, 2011 00:05 AM
rating: 0
 
Dodger300

I get no souund either.

Dec 17, 2011 00:22 AM
rating: 0
 
Josh Shepardson

Love the old school feel of the usage of slow motion. Great follow up.

Dec 17, 2011 00:39 AM
rating: 0
 
AJ

I am still mystified about Ahman Green's role in all of this. In any case, he's been making this off the charts epic, as if the video wasn't great already with the quality editing.

Dec 17, 2011 01:19 AM
rating: 1
 
Benjamin Harris

Ahman Green helped him train, I believe. They talked about it on the podcast.

Dec 17, 2011 18:02 PM
rating: 0
 
AJ

You can gather that from the video alone. Poor choice of words I my part. I meant, I'm uncertain as to why he's doing this. Is he being paid? Doing it out of the kindness of his heart? As a favor? Mentoring a younger athlete? It just seems odd for a guy who was a pro in a different sport to be doing.

Dec 18, 2011 10:50 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

He's good friends with Chris Wray, who is training Cespedes, and he's getting ready to open a facility of his own.

Dec 18, 2011 22:27 PM
 
Rich Wilson

No sound. Firefox, IE, even failed on my iPhone. Bummer

Dec 17, 2011 05:49 AM
rating: 0
 
Chad Supp

Rushmore is my favorite Wes Anderson film. And possibly my favorite soundtrack of any movie. Step back?

Dec 17, 2011 06:47 AM
rating: 6
 
Dave Holgado

Bottle Rocket was outstanding, but I agree with Chad. (If you're going to rip on one of Wes's flicks, why not The Darjeeling Limited?) And P.T. Anderson has yet to make a stinker. Boogie Nights was obviously a step up from Hard Eight, but I don't get the dig on Magnolia. Yes it was melodramatic and sprawling, but it was also smart and ambitious and everything that a movie should be.

But then, this is from a dude who doesn't respect the Beatles. We love you, KG. And we'll still love you even when it's no longer sufficiently indie hipster to do so. :-)

Dec 17, 2011 07:39 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I actually love Magnolia. Sprawling is the best word for it, but it definitely needed an editor. As for Rushmore, it's actually my least favorite of Wes Anderson's films.

Dec 17, 2011 09:29 AM
 
Dave Holgado

Fair enough. But you liked Darjeeling? "That's inappropriate! That's inexcusable! That I don't forgive!"

Dec 17, 2011 09:56 AM
rating: 0
 
Scott44

"He is real, very real" by Peter Gammons.

I sure hope so, I'd be quite disappointed if I've been watching video of a pretend person.

Also, I hope that is his real name, and age.

Dec 17, 2011 07:16 AM
rating: 4
 
eighteen

The same Peter Gammons who said there was no doubt Sean Burroughs would hit; and that Burroughs' return to the majors would be a great story?

In baseball as in life: the greater the hype, the less the reality.

Dec 17, 2011 17:32 PM
rating: -2
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

The same Peter Gammons who is the reason I have a career? The Hall of Fame writer? That guy?

Dec 17, 2011 19:04 PM
 
eighteen

Kevin: There's no doubt Gammons has done baseball a great service by keeping an open mind toward statistical and non-traditional analysis; and encouraging journalists like yourself. He could've pulled a Murray Chass v2.0 and used his influence to set baseball discourse back 20 years. We owe him for being better, and stronger, than that; particularly since most of his colleagues were (and are) fighting SABRmetrics tooth and nail.

That said: however much you owe Gammons, and however much pull he has with HOF voters, the fact is his baseball reporting has very little to commend itself.

Dec 19, 2011 12:28 PM
rating: -1
 
amazin_mess

I agree. The hype machine on this guy is off the charts.

Dec 18, 2011 00:39 AM
rating: -1
 
smallflowers

"Did Coppola throw scenes from The Godfather into The Godfather II? No, he did not, and there's a good reason for that."

Not to go all film-nerd and miss the point of your joke, but doesn't Part II open with the exact final sequence/footage from I of Michael extending his hand to Rocco & company?

Dec 17, 2011 19:58 PM
rating: 4
 
stukaju87d

This kid is built like a brick sh$thouse i hope he isn't dabbling in PED.

Dec 17, 2011 21:32 PM
rating: 0
 
Dodger300

Poor kid hasn't even started and this is already enough of a whisper campaign to deny him Hall of Fame votes.

Dec 19, 2011 18:25 PM
rating: 2
 
Doug Thorburn

He can certainly hammer the low pitch, but I wonder how that long swing translates to high heat.

Dec 18, 2011 04:03 AM
rating: 1
 
flyingdutchman

Probably won't. I'd bet right now that he'll be a complete bust. He looks like he's going to strike out a ton, and let's see if he can walk against major league pitching. Most big stocky guys that say they can play CF just can't. I'm betting most everyone is underestimating the true difference between the majors and Cuban baseball, and I doubt he'll make enough adjustments.

Tigers fan, so I'm hoping they don't fall for the hype.

Dec 19, 2011 11:15 AM
rating: 1
 
amazin_mess

I TOTALLY agree. The kid has some great PR people and that will make him rich. I don't see it either, dutchman.

Dec 19, 2011 12:42 PM
rating: 0
 
Doug Thorburn

And some day, we will look back and remember that this was how body-kayaking went viral.

Dec 18, 2011 04:03 AM
rating: 0
 
Ryno23

Um, did they leave Ahman out there? Is he okay?

Dec 19, 2011 06:18 AM
rating: 0
 
beckerharry

La Potencia actually means, 'the force' or 'potency'

Dec 19, 2011 07:37 AM
rating: 0
 
Peter7899

Is it just me, or does his swing remind anyone else of Dustin Pedroia?

Dec 19, 2011 09:15 AM
rating: 0
 
flyingdutchman

I hope it's just you. This guy is the opposite of Dustin Pedroia in every way, including in the fact that one of them will be a great Major Leaguer in the future.

Dec 19, 2011 11:01 AM
rating: 1
 
Peter7899

Just the long stride and big hack. Noticed it in game footage more than the BP. Anyway... no idea what your comment meant.

Dec 19, 2011 11:18 AM
rating: -2
 
DDriesen

That is not a tight shirt, I believe it is body paint.

Dec 19, 2011 10:29 AM
rating: 1
 
Peter Benedict

Rushmore is the greatest movie ever filmed; Anderson's other works range from very good to great-ish, but only Rushmore clears the bar to Top 10 All Time.

Dec 19, 2011 12:50 PM
rating: 0
 
smallflowers

That is like saying Cespedes is a top 10 prospect of all time. Not only is it not true, it's the special kind of 'not true' that one can make 30 minute movies about, and whether or not the filmmaker supports the opinion, either way it will illuminate the shocking non-truthiness of it all.

Dec 19, 2011 18:03 PM
rating: 0
 
Dave Holgado

"If I did do the list, it'd be a damn good list, I can tell you that much right now."
"How many Rocky movies?"
"1 through 3."
"Not 4 and 5?"
"Don't be ridiculous, Dana. This is the 10 best movies of *all time.*"

Dec 22, 2011 06:40 AM
rating: 1
 
dantroy

Is that Paul Shaffer sporting shades around the 8-minute mark?

Dec 19, 2011 22:20 PM
rating: -1
 
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