After an illustrious international baseball career, a defection, a four-year contract, and an enraged El-Duque, the Nationals 29-year-old pitching “prospect” Yunesky Maya is finally ready to make his major league debut tonight against the New York Mets. No doubt this is a day the Cuban dreamed of as a child, and finally, nearing the end of his 20’s, he will make that debut in front of a hometown crowd tonight.
“I’m really happy to be in the big leagues,” Maya told reporters. “It’s a dream come true.”
After making his defection to the Dominican Republic last September, Maya was a intensely sought after commodity. After a contract battle between the Mets and the Nationals, Maya decided to sign a four-year $8 million dollar contract with Washington to join fellow Cuban pitchers Livan and Orlando Hernandez. Since his signing Maya has been moving up the ranks, getting in the proper rotations to make sure he is at the top of his game before he made his debut.
Maya had two great starts in Rookie-Ball, allowing only one earned run in seven innings while striking out five. He hit a road bump during his one start in A+ Potomac, allowing six earned runs in four innings pitched. Maya settled down in his sole start in AAA, however, allowing only three hits and one earned run in seven innings of work in Syracuse.
The right-hander will be making his debut tonight against both the team that wanted to sign him, and against a fellow rookie making his MLB debut. Dillon Gee, a former 21st round draft pick, will be making his MLB debut tonight after working his way through the system in only three years.
During six seasons in the Cuba National Series, Yunesky combined for a record of 48-29 with a 2.51 ERA.
“Who This Dillon Gee Character Is
Short Answer: A Crafty Righty.
The Slightly Longer Answer: Gee is described in Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook as having “fringe-average stuff” with a fastball sitting at 88-90 mph and topping at 92 mph. That was before a labrum tear last season — an injury he opted to treat with rehab and not surgery. This year, Gee has been excellent, posting about seven more strikeouts than walks per nine innings.Basically, he’s having his best pro year at the highest level in which he’s pitched — which, that’s not common.”
“Who This Yunesky Maya Character Is
Short Answer: A Cuban Defector.
The Slightly Longer Answer: The 29-year-old Maya signed a four-year, $8 million contract with Washington this summer after defecting from Cuba last September. According to Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN’s La Esquina blog (Insider only), Maya threw for scouts in the Dominican last December. Arangure Jr writes that “In addition to [an 88-92 mph] fastball and two-seamer, Maya threw a slider, curveball and changeup. Additionally, Maya occasionally throws a splitter.”