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Sources: Club close to deal with Cuban OF

4/6/2011

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers are close to a deal to sign Cuban center fielder Leonys Martin to a major league contract, according to Major League sources. Martin would likely start the season in Double-A Frisco, assuming he signs.

Martin, 23, is someone who would go on the 40-man roster and become a solid outfield prospect for the Rangers. One source described him as someone with plenty of speed and a good arm, but not a power guy.

Baseball-Reference.com had this to say about Martin:

Leonys Martín became a star in his third season in Cuba in 2007-2008, hitting .398/.497/.564, just behind Yoandy Garlobo for the league lead in average. He tied for second in the league in triples (9) and was 6th in steals (13). He failed to make the post-season All-Star team as Alexei Bell, Alfredo Despaigne and Yoandry Urgelles were picked as the outfielders. He made Cuba's roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. As a backup outfielder in the Classic, he was 2 for 7 with 3 runs. He had previously played for Cuba in the 2006 World Junior Championship.

Martín hit .311/.491/.492 in 2008-2009. He tied Yoennis Cespedes for 4th in runs (83) and tied Alexei Bell for 2nd in steals (17). He was also 5th with 78 walks. He made the All-Star team as a utility man.

In the 2009 World Port Tournament, Leonys hit .310/.356/.476 and had one assist from right field. His 7 RBI tied Ariel Borrero, Rolando Meriño and Eriel Sánchez for second in the tourney, behind Yoelvis Fiss. His four doubles tied Sidney de Jong and Borrero for second behind Sánchez. His 20 total bases were 4th and his 13 hits 5th. He also tied Meriño and Fiss for 5th in runs (7). He was 9th in average and 7th in slugging.