Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Welcome to the Blue, Pablo Fernandez! And Hector Olivera, Too!

It had been a poorly held secret that the Dodgers had locked up slugging infielder Hector Oliver and relief prospect Pablo Fernandez.  Well, now it's official.  After recently attaining both a visa and coming to California to complete a team-physician physical they are now Dodgers.  With regards to Hernandez, via a Dodger press release:
Fernandez, 25, has a 32-30 career record with 40 saves and a 3.59 ERA in 177 games (21 starts) in seven seasons with Holguin (2007-14) and Matanzas (2012-13). The Cuban fan favorite has been a staple in the league's All-Star Game during his career, garnering the most All-Star votes in 2013-14 and earning both the win and MVP honors at the 2011-12 game.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder had his best season in 2011-12, earning recognition as the Series Nacional Pitcher of the Year with a league-leading 1.52 ERA and going 7-4 with a club-record 18 saves in 95.0 innings over 35 appearances with Holguin. That season, Fernandez closed out the first extra-inning no-hitter and third combined no-hitter in Cuban history with a 1-2-3 10th inning on March 13, 2012 to preserve a 1-0 win.

Fernandez last pitched during the 2013-14 season, posting an 8-8 record with six saves and a 2.83 ERA in 27 games (one start). He issued only 10 walks in 57.1 innings in 2013-14 and excluding intentional walks, he has issued only 87 walks in 414.0 career innings, less than five percent of his 1751 batters faced.
The Dodgers brass had this to say about the recent signings:
"We are excited to be adding two players to our organization that have consistently demonstrated their talent in Cuba as well as in international competition," said Dodger President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. "We look forward to adding them to our organization and are confident they will be able to contribute to the Dodgers in the near future."
In celebration of Fernandez's signing with the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed online at CubaDebate.cu/Ricardo L√≥pez Hevia and the 1972 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are his career stats from Cuba, via Baseball-Reference:

Back in March I had made a "Welcome" post for Hector Olivera, so I'll link to that here.  There is a fantasy Baseball card I created, some background, links and videos of him.  I would also suggest checking out Jon Weisman's post on the trade here.

As you may know, Olivera is the big fish in this announcement.  He is thought to have signed a six-year contract worth over $60Million, and there were rumors of an affordable seventh year added on should any arm problems related to his elbow occur.  Fortunately, via Jon Heyman on twitter that doesn't appear to be the case.
What we should expect is that he'll likely find his way to Los Angeles before the season is over.  Whether that is sooner or later is dependent on how quickly he acclimates himself to the game.  I suspect they'll give him ample time to get his swing in order and plenty of work on the field to truly see what he can do.  If he ends up whacking the cover off the ball then someone is going to get traded to make room for him.

Per a Dodger press release:
Olivera, 30, has a .323 career batting average with 96 home runs and 433 RBI, appearing primarily at first base and second base, in 10 seasons with Santiago from 2003-2014. During the course of his career, Olivera has posted a .407 on-base percentage, while drawing more walks (367) than strikeouts (251). He stole a career-high 21 bases in 22 attempts in 2007-08 and has 55 steals in his career.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has posted a batting average of better than .340 on three occasions, while hitting double-digit home runs in five consecutive seasons from 2007-08 through 2011-12. During the five-year period between 2006-11, Olivera was one of the most durable and productive players in Cuba, ranking among the league leaders in games played (432, 5th), runs (406, 2nd), hits (563, 4th), doubles (122, 1st) and total bases (899, 4th). In the 90-game Serie Nacional season, Olivera has recorded career-best marks with 17 home runs (in 60 games in 2011-12), 71 RBI (in 84 games in 2008-09) and a .353 batting average (in 84 games in 2007-08). He last played in 2013-14, hitting .316 with seven home runs and 38 RBI in 73 games.
Hopefully, he's as polished as his resume suggest. 

As you can see below I made another fantasy card for Olivera, but it's far from my best work.  Since I am pressed for time and far too busy, this will have to do. 

Below are his career stats from Cuba, via Baseball-Reference:

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