Outfielder Pedro Leon, who dominated Cuba's Serie Nacional in 2018 before defecting, is expected to sign with the Houston Astros for around $4 million when a new international signing period opens July 2, sources tell ESPN's Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel.
Leon, 21, would be one of the class's highest-paid players.
Leon mostly played corner outfield in Cuba and has hit for power in games, but is reputed to have above-average speed, a plus arm and plus raw power as a right-handed hitter. While a roster at his workout on Wednesday listed him at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, one scout estimated Leon to be 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds.
Scouts didn't get to see Leon's reputed power on display during the workout at the Giants' academy in the Dominican Republic as they were told he'd already reached a deal with a team.
Leon was cleared as a free agent in December, but delayed his open workout due to an oblique injury. Scouts say he previously has dealt with a shoulder injury as well.
Cuban prospects have to wait to negotiate with clubs until after their first open workout for all 30 teams, or after they are cleared to be a free agent. Sources said Leon worked out privately for the Astros at their facility recently and the club was able to collect valuable data using advanced technology such as bat sensors and radar-based technology like TrackMan that other clubs weren't able to collect on Wednesday.
Almost all of the seven-figure talents in the 2020 signing class have already committed to other clubs and Houston has most of its signing pool available, allowing it to pay a high price for Leon. He is eligible to sign now as part of a team's 2019 class, but most of the money in teams' bonus pools has already been spent, so it was expected he'd wait until the pools reset for the 2020 class.
Many top players will verbally commit to deals with clubs as much as three years before they are eligible to sign, and often all of the top-tier players are locked up by 18 months before signing day. The wild cards are Cuban players who defect and enter the market late, along with players who emerge later in the process.
Cuban right-hander Norge Vera is another prospect who worked out for clubs this week and he'll likely wait until the 2020 signing period to sign. Cuban shortstop Yiddi Cappe also hit the market when most of the 2019 bonus money was spent and has long been rumored to sign with the Marlins for a multimillion-dollar bonus in July. Cuban outfielder/left-handed pitcher Oscar Colas is another Cuban player of note who defected recently, but he hasn't scheduled a workout or been cleared to sign as of yet.