Before I began capturing video and writing about Cuban baseball, my photos connected me with the Cuban baseball community. Some of my early photos were the first to circulate as the internet was in it’s naissance. I have had the good fortune to return many times and capture the Cuban National Team in Canada as well. Join me in a new series where I share some of my favourite photos and tell the Stories of some of Cuba’s best players. Today let’s look at the White Sox Yoelqui Céspedes Through My Lens.
Yoelkis Céspedes or more frequently presented as Yoelqui Céspedes is of course the half brother of Yoennis Céspedes. Yoennis left Cuba when Yoelqui was barely a teenager and they didn’t have a strong bond. The brothers have more built their relationship in the past two years since Yoelqui left Cuba. My introduction to Yoelqui first appeared on the radar in 2017 he was a prominent piece for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic. My camera would capture him for the first time later that summer as he toured the CanAm League with Cuba.
The young outfielder from the Granma Alazanes along with Victor Victor Mesa were the exceptions to the rosters mature rule. Their inclusion was at roughly the same time talks between Cuba and MLB provided hope a legal path to America was being paved. The WBC and CanAm tours acted as a showcase for the talented outfielders. Fast Forward four years and both players are now in Major League organizations. Mesa signed with the Marlins in 2018 and Céspedes with the White Sox in 2021.
The White Sox Yoelqui Céspedes possesses many of the athletic tools his older brother does, however to expect him to be the same type of player isn’t necessarily fair. Yoelqui has spent most of his time in Right Field largely due to roster depth both for Granma and for Cuba. He likely has the tools to play Centerfield however the lack of time playing the hardest outfield position might keep him in right. His speed and his arm grade out as his best physical tools, again foreshadowing a future in right field.
Yoelqui has battled leg injuries which limited his playing time and performance in the Cuban National Series. He has also lost significant playing time due to his defection and the CoronaVirus’ delaying his signing and the cancelation of the 2020 Minor League Season. He spent the majority of 2020 working out in the Bahamas and in Florida with his brother. As his body has matured he increasingly resembles Yoennis in both stature and hitting mechanic. This has increased the speculation that his brother’s power might manifest in his bat, again this might be a bit lofty.