Alfredo Despaigne Fails to Impress in Mexico
About two months ago, I wrote a post about Cuban slugger Alfredo Despaigne, whom the Cuban government allowed to play in the Mexican League this summer despite the obvious risk that Despaigne might use the opportunity to defect so he could make the big money playing in the U.S.
Despaigne didn’t defect, although he says he was approached in Mexico by people who wanted him to. He played 33 games for the Campeche Pirates, before apparently returning to Cuba to prepare for the Cuban National Serie, which plays during the winter months. Either that, or he’s currently injured since he hasn’t played in Mexico since August 3rd.
Frankly, I don’t think Despaigne did a whole lot in Mexico to convince major league teams to give him a big signing bonus even if he does intend to defect at some time in the future. While his .338 batting average and .928 OPS look great, they are not impressive numbers in a league with as much offense as the Mexican League. His batting average would rank him only 18th among qualifiers, and his OPS wasn’t as high as any of the top 20 qualifiers.
Granted, Despaigne only played 33 games, so maybe he would have hit better if he played a full season or two in Mexico once he had adjusted to the Mexican League style of play. However, Despaigne is already 27 years old, so he should be in his prime and not getting any younger for purposes of major league interest. Also, the Mexican League just isn’t that good a league for purposes of a player who is supposed to be one of the three or four best hitters in the world not playing in the majors.
Also, Despaigne’s other numbers were worse. He struck out nearly seven times for each time he walked, and he grounded into more double plays (6) than he drew walks (4). His outfield defense doesn’t appear to have been particularly impressive either, with only one assist while mostly playing right field.
Assuming that Despaigne is back in Cuba and won’t defect at the earliest, if ever, until next summer, it’s unlikely that he would be able to play in the majors until 2015, the year he turns 29, given his need to establish residency in some other country and sign a contract with an MLB organization. That’s really pushing it as far as the likelihood of his having future major league success.