MEET YOENIS CESPEDES: The $36-Million Cuban Phenom Who's About To Become Baseball's Next Great Slugger

Yoenis Cespedes

Photo: Getty Images/Ezra Shaw

The Oakland Athletics surprised many when they took a gamble and signed 26-year-old Cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes to a $36 million contract in February.Oakland isn’t exactly known for shelling out that kind of money, especially for an unproven foreign player who’s price is being driven up primarily by potential.

Two weeks into the season the A’s are proving they made a good investment, as Cespedes’ towering home runs have begun to terrorize opposing pitchers.

Like many Cuban ballplayers from the Castro era, this centerfielder comes from humble beginnings but with loads of hype.

Yoenis Cespedes was born in Campechuela, Cuba in 1985

He comes from an athletic background. Cespedes' mother, Estela Milenez, pitched for the Cuban national softball team during the 2000 Olympics

Source: NYT

Cespedes began turning heads as soon as he hit the Cuban baseball league. He led his team to the playoffs with a .300 batting average as an 18-year-old centerfielder

Source: Wikipedia

Over the next four seasons, Cespedes tore up the Cuban league as he was at or near the top of the leaderboard in nearly every offensive category

The 2009 World Baseball Classic was billed as Cespedes' coming out party and he didn't disappoint. He hit .458 with 2 home runs and 3 triples

A few more great seasons in Cuba, including hitting 33 home runs in 2011 to break the single season record, left Cespedes with little to prove

Source: Radio Nuevitas

Cespedes defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic on a speedboat shortly after the season was over

Source: Yahoo! Sports

Cespedes chose the DR instead of the U.S. so he could be signed to a lucrative contract, instead of going through the MLB draft.

Source: NYT

As part of his free agent campaign, Cespedes' handlers released a bizarre video showcasing his workout regimen, highlights, and very odd things like a whole roasted pig. Weird

Even though most believed Cespedes would go to a large market like New York or Boston, or help spark a new era with the Miami Marlins, Cespedes signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the lowly Oakland A's

Source: ESPN

Cespedes is already Oakland's best home run hitter, having belted three on the early season, including this massive moon shot against Seattle

Now see what other foreign stars MLB fawned over before they arrived stateside

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