KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Though the Braves never envisioned Dian Toscano opening the season at the Major League level, they were at least hoping to get a glimpse of the Cuban outfielder during Spring Training.
But with Opening Day just two weeks away, Toscano still has not gained the clearance necessary for him to enter the United States to begin his employment as a professional baseball player. One Braves source indicated that it might be another month before the outfielder is granted the visa he needs to enter this country.
"We have followed proper protocol from the beginning, but visa issues are out of our control," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "We are working on this daily and we hope to have this resolved as quickly as possible."
When the Braves signed Toscano to a four-year, $6 million contract this past winter, they viewed him as a raw, inexperienced outfielder with upside. Though, it was always assumed that he would have to spend at least a few months with Triple-A Gwinnett, the club hoped to better gauge his talent as he matched up against Major League talent during Spring Training.
But despite diligently working to complete all of the paperwork and procedural steps necessary for Toscano to gain a visa, the Braves have been left frustrated by this process that has been dictated by the immigration system.
Because he did not participate in international events for the Cuban national team, Toscano was a relatively unknown player until he escaped Cuba and reached the Dominican Republic earlier this year.
Toscano is a 6-foot, 200-pound left-handed hitter who was recognized in Cuba for his plate discipline. He has not shown great power and his limited arm strength provides reason to believe his best fit is in left field.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.