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Nationals introduce Yunesky Maya

On Friday afternoon, Livan Hernandez chatted with Phillies reliever Jose Contreras, two pitchers closer to 40 years old than 30 who had come from Cuba to America and become wealthy and free men.

Hernandez mentioned Yunesky Maya, the 28-year-old Cuban right-handed pitcher the Nationals were about to sign. Contreras remembered. Yes, that was him. Maya had been a bat boy for the team Hernandez and Contreras played on together in Cuba's highest baseball league.

"So now here we are," Hernandez said Saturday evening. He sat two seats from Maya, impeccably dressed in suit and gray tie, at a dais erected to announce Maya as the most significant international prospect the Nationals had ever signed. "Look at this."

The Nationals, after years of their scouting and unimaginable measures of his daring, had come to agreement with Maya weeks ago. On Saturday, General Manager Mike Rizzo made it official and proclaimed Maya the Nationals' "first major international signing that we think is going to impact our major league ball club immediately."

Hernandez slipped a No. 27 Nationals jersey over Maya's shoulder. Maya confidently spoke Spanish to a room full of English reporters, his agent Bart Hernandez doing the translating. "Quiero aqui pronto," he said - "I want to be here soon."

Maya arrived in Washington at roughly 2 p.m. Friday. He will watch the game tonight and tomorrow, then board a plane to Viera, Fla. to throw in front of Nationals pitching coordinator Spin Williams. Afterward, they will determine Maya's next move. They believe it could include him pitching in the major leagues this season.

Through his agent, Maya said he is a "guy that pounds the strike zone. He's aggressive. He's a guy that hits the corner with good command." He chose the Nationals among several suitors because they were aggressive, he said, in showing they wanted him. Johnny DiPuglia, the Nationals new Latin American director, led the charge.

Last year in Cuba's best league, Maya earned the equivalent of the Cy Young, going 13-4 with a 2.22 ERA.

"I'm very happy for anybody who comes over from Cuba," Livan Hernandez said. "I'm in the same situation in '95. I heard they were going to sign him. I've seen him pitch in Puerto Rico. I think he's got everything he needs to pitch in the big leagues."

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 31, 2010; 6:33 PM ET
Categories:  Livan Hernandez , Yunesky Maya  | Tags: Yunesky Maya  
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Next: Stephen Strasburg will throw Sunday


That makes three slots in the 2011 rotation ... four if Livan Hernandez is included.

Posted by: periculum | July 31, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Chico, doesn't Jordan Zimmermann wear #27? Also, I've seen multiple spellings of Maya's first name.. is it confirmed that it is Yunesky?

Posted by: dcsportsfan13 | July 31, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Adam, sorry to point that out, but your Spanish needs some work...
There's is probably an "estar" or so missing in that sentence.

Posted by: amo36 | July 31, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

How do Olsen and Stammen figure into next year's plans? And does the Maya signing end up making the Wang signing a wash (nothing from Wang and a good MLB pitecher in Maya)?

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 31, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Let's see, for starting pitchers there's Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, Yunesky Maya, Scott Olson, Craig Stammen, Matt Chico, Ross Dettwiler, Chien-Ming Wang, Jason Marquis ...

Prospects in the pipeline or recently brought up include the Chris Marero (infield), Justin Maxwell (outfield), a big league ready catcher in Wilson Ramos, Jesus Flores (catcher), two AA starting pitchers in return for Christian Guzman, power hitting infielder Mike Morse, Ian Desmond (SS), Roger Bernadina (outfield)and possibly another generational talent in Bryce Harper (outfield), if they can sign him.

It looks like Dunn might possibly be extended -- he's made some nice fielding plays lately. Ryan Zimmerman is solid at 3rd. Pudge at Catcher is a strength. Although he's having a down year, I like Nyjer Morgan in Center Field.

We have a rebuilt scouting department, an upgrade at GM, lots of young arms in the pipeline, hot prospects, and talented young players getting opportunities for playing time now that several veterans have been traded.

When Bryce Harper considers his options, I'm guessing he's going to notice that the Nats aren't as far off as some people have recently suggested.

Posted by: dannykurland1 | July 31, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I guess we're going to end up getting dick from Wang.

On another note, perhaps Maya can out Livo on his age. Was Maya Livo's bat boy in, say, 1990?

And we gots to know the namesake of the "Cy Young" Award in Cuba. We can't keep calling it the Cy Young equivalent like it's a GED.

Posted by: paulkp | August 1, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

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