Another top Cuban prospect could be on the verge of becoming a free agent and making his way to the Major Leagues.
Seven teams -- including the Cubs, Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox -- have expressed serious interest in Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and have been watching him throw bullpen sessions in Mexico since April, according to an industry source.
Gonzalez, 26, fled Cuba earlier this year, landed in El Salvador and worked out for a month in Mexico City before making his way to Tijuana, where he currently resides. He has been throwing full bullpen sessions in front of scouts twice each week for the past two months and expects to face hitters this week.
Representatives for the 6-foot-3 Gonzalez submitted paperwork to the United States Department of Treasury for the purposes of unblocking the player in February and began petitioning MLB for free agency a month later. Gonzalez filed a copy of his residency card from Mexico -- the final step to becoming a free agent -- to the Commissioner's Office last week, but does not expect to hear back until after the conclusion of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Gonzalez still has to be cleared by the U.S. government before he can enter into an agreement with a Major League club. The unblocking process could be resolved immediately, or last several months.
A full-fledged showcase is expected once he becomes eligible to sign with a Major League club.
The hard-throwing right-hander has a fastball in the mid-90s, a changeup, fork and a curveball. He made a splash on the international scene at the 2010 University Baseball Championships in Tokyo, and also shined at the Baseball World Cup in '09 and '11. He was suspended from Cuba's national team for most of the past two seasons for trying to leave the island.
Fellow Cuban prospect Yasiel Puig, who signed a seven-year, $42 million deal with the Dodgers last summer, made his Major League debut Monday in Los Angeles and went 2-for-4 with an outfield assist in his first game. He hit two home runs and drove in five runs in his second game, and went 0-for-4 in his third game Wednesday.
Cuban players that are at least 23 years old and have played at least three seasons in a Cuban professional league (like Gonzalez and Puig) are not subject to the new international signing guidelines established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.