Astros sign Cuban free agent Cionel Perez

HOUSTON, TX - The Houston Astros have officially signed highly-touted Cuban left-handed pitcher Cionel Perez to a minor league contract today. The announcement was made by Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Astros Director of International Oz Ocampo. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Perez, 20, last pitched for Matanzas and led Cuba's Serie Nacional with a 2.06 ERA (20ER/87.1IP) in 17 starts in 2014. Playing that season at the age of 18, Perez went 7-2 with 75 strikeouts in his 87.1 innings pitched, while allowing just two home runs. He has two years of experience in Cuba (2013-14), combining for a 10-5 record and a 2.20 ERA (34ER/139IP) in 30 games, including 28 starts.

"We are very excited to bring Cionel into the Houston Astros organization, after scouting him for a number of years," Ocampo said. "He is a very talented, young lefty with the baseball ability and fortitude to have a very successful Major League career. At his best, he features a 90-96 MPH fastball with two power breaking balls (curveball, slider) and the makings of an average changeup. 

"Cionel has had a very successful career to date, performing well in both the Cuban National Series (Serie Nacional) and in International tournament play. Most importantly, we are confident that Cionel has the work ethic, competitive fire, intelligence, and aptitude to succeed at the highest levels."

The signing of Perez continues the Astros efforts towards acquiring the top talent that has come out of Cuba. Earlier this year, Houston signed star Cuban free agent IF Yuli Gurriel, who debuted for Houston in August. In addition to Gurriel, the Astros have signed or acquired several Cuban players over the last two years, including IF/OF Yordan Alvarez, RHP Rogelio Armenteros, OF Norberto Castellanos, CF Alejandro Garcia, RHP Yoanys Quiala, SS Anibal Sierra and RHP Carlos Sierra.