11 months after the St. Louis Cardinals signed shortstop Aledmys Diaz, they have added another Cuban native in pitcher Pedro Echemendia. The right-hander signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals last week in Jupiter, Florida.
Echemendia, whose full name is Pedro Luis Echemendía Naceira, played for his hometown club of Ciego de Ávila in the Cuban National League during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. Starting and relieving, he struggled in his first season with a 6.16 ERA, but improved that to 3.19 in year two, when the teenager was a league all-star. Echemendia’s strikeout rate was a paltry 2.8 per nine innings, however.
In September 2011, it was disclosed that he left Cuba for the Dominican Republic. By 2013, Echemendia had moved his training to Florida. According to several You Tube videos posted in 2013 and 2014, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound right-hander has three pitches – a fastball in the 87-89 mph range, a 71-73 mph curve as well as a changeup.
On January 20th, Echemendia joined fellow Cuban free agents first baseman Jozzen Cuesta and outfielder Dayron Varona in a showcase in Delray Beach, Florida. According to various media reports, between 50 and 75 scouts and executives were in attendance, with Varona apparently the prime attraction.
For the two years prior, Echemendia worked with strength coach Adam Brush, owner of Five Tool Baseball Performance Training in Boynton Beach, Florida. Among Brush’s other clients are Major League Baseball all-star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and Diaz.
Echemendia is 23 years of age, which normally might suggest that his bonus could be exempt from the Cardinals’ assigned international bonus pool total. However, that exemption only applies if the signee has five years of professional experience. That is where the hurler apparently falls short.
The amount of his signing bonus is unknown at this time. Echemendia has been assigned to the roster of the A-Advanced Palm Beach Cardinals and is expected to report to minor league spring training camp when it opens on March 9th.
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