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They were flanked by equally happy Marlins CEO Derek Jeter and president of baseball operations Mike Hill as the two announced the signings of the Mesa brothers, top international free-agent outfielders from Cuba. The Mesas were declared free agents by Major League Baseball, and the Marlins were widely viewed as front-runners to sign them.
Monday was a good day for the Marlins, Jeter, Hill and the Mesas because they offer potential and hope for a fan base that seeks both.
“We want Miami to be the destination for top international talent,” Jeter said. “This organization should reflect the diversity of the South Florida community.”
“This is an important part of creating sustained success at the major league level. We look forward to getting the brothers on the field as soon as possible, watching them continue to develop and feel our fan base is going to be extremely excited to see them both play.”
Miami is one of the most diverse cities in America, and it has one of the largest Hispanic populations in the United States. The Mesa brothers both discussed how the city and culture of Miami played a significant part in them choosing the Marlins over several other suitors.
“It’s not a secret there’s a lot of Latinos, a lot of Cubans here. So we feel like home here,” Victor Victor Mesa, 22, said via a translator. “But mostly the seriousness and plan this organization has is what attracts us the most.”
Victor Mesa Jr., 17, added, via a translator: “This is a rebuilding team that we’re doing here and I’m very proud to be a part of it … All of the Latinos here, all of the culture here is one of the things that I like the most.”
The Marlins, who changed their Twitter display name to Miami Miami Marlins, tweeted a welcome to the brothers.
Jeter said these signings show how aggressive the Marlins plan to be in the international free-agent signing periods. He noted that baseball was the No. 1 sport in many Spanish countries like Cuba, and he planned to seek out those areas to find talent.
Victor Victor Mesa, the headliner of the package, started playing in Cuba’s top league at 16 and is considered a speedy defensive standout. He played for Cuba in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and went 3-for-7 with two doubles and three RBIs in six games. He was the top-ranked international free-agent prospect, and he is now ranked No. 1 among Marlins prospects, per MLB Pipeline.
“For me, it’s a dream to be in the major leagues,” said Victor Victor Mesa, who described himself as an “aggressive player offensively and very comfortable at the plate.”
He added: “I want to get ready as soon as possible for spring training, work as hard as possible and wait for that call … I’ll do my best to be playing here in the year to come in this beautiful ballpark.”
The younger brother, Mesa Jr., is a switch-hitter who starred for Cuba’s U18 national team. Both left Cuba last spring to pursue major league careers, and two weeks ago the brothers tried out for major league scouts at Marlins Park.
“When I was doing the showcase, I was thinking this could be my park,” Mesa Jr. said. “It was beautiful. I felt like a big leaguer.”
Marlins Park is undergoing several significant changes this offseason, including receiving Miami-Dade County board approval to relocate the seven-story-high home run sculpture named “Homer” to a new location outside the stadium.
The Marlins swung several deals to increase their international slot allotment, including $1 million they received when they traded right-handed reliever Kyle Barraclough to Washington this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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sources: sports news from abc.com