The T’s are crossed and the I’s finally dotted on the contract between Norge Vera and the Chicago White Sox. The deal has been speculated since the summer, reported in January and now official. The pact is for $1.5 million and bookends with the Yoelqui Céspedes signing. The Pale Hose appear to be accumulating as much top end Cuban talent as possible. Vera himself acknowledges that the Cuban influence drew him to the White Sox.
Norge Carlos Vera is the son of Cuban pitching legend Norge Luis Vera. Vera the elder was the long time ace for the Santiago de Cuba Avispas and a key starter for many Cuban National squads. He most famously started against the Orioles in their 1999 international exhibition series.
Junior pitched briefly for Santiago, so briefly I was unable to find his statistics. He was a member of the National team that toured the CanAm League in 2019. Vera was used sparingly on that tour. He logged five innings and sported a gaudy 12.60 ERA. He would walk away from the team and from Cuba while they were in New Jersey. This is where the speculation over his prospect status began.
I chronicled that Cuban squad during their visit to Trois Rivieres and in Ottawa. I unfortunately only captured Vera warming in the bullpen in a game he would not see live action in. That photo however will appear on his first baseball card via the Topps Company. Humble brag aside, lets take a look at what we do know about the young Cuban fireballer.
Vera is a tall and slender, some reports listing him as 6’4 and 185 lbs. He possess an above average fastball which especially stood out in Cuba. It has been a longtime since a Cuban starter raised and developed in Cuba has had consistent MLB success. The hope is that improved strength training and American pitching methods can help him harness the obvious physical talent.
During his September 28th workout for a big part of MLB ball clubs, the young hurler flashed a fastball in between 91-94 mph and topped out 97mph. He also showed an array of breaking pitches which included a slider between 79-81 mph and a dazzling slow curve which was between 72-74 mph.Yusseff Diaz Pelota Cubana & Calltothepen.com
Vera is likely to start 2021 in A-ball or advanced A and if he impresses could see a quick promotion to double-A. Norge hasn’t pitched much since 2019 due to the timing of his defection and the covid-19 pandemic. The White Sox will likely take their time in developing the youngster but their investment indicates they do have Major League ambitions for him.