Cuban slugger Ruiz could sign soon

Cuban slugger Ruiz could sign soon

It may only be a few more days before Cuban first-base prospect Jose Julio Ruiz picks his first Major League organization, according to a Saturday report by El Nuevo Herald.

The Spanish-based newspaper affiliated with The Miami Herald reported that negotiations for Ruiz have "intensified" as Spring Training looms, with concrete offers from big league clubs trickling in for the 25-year-old lefty hitter.

"By next week, he should be signed already," one of Ruiz's agents, Jorge Luis Toca, told El Nuevo Herald in Spanish. "Perhaps Wednesday we'll announce something."

Toca told El Nuevo Herald the Blue Jays, Rangers, Red Sox, Giants, Rays and Rockies have been the most interested in signing Ruiz, adding that he's also "waiting on an offer from the Yankees." Ruiz and his representatives, however, are looking for a club he can rise quickly with, so the Yankees -- with Mark Teixeira on the books until 2016 -- are not a likely destination.

"The idea is to find a team where he'll have the best opportunity to rise the quickest," Toca told the publication.

Ruiz has been working out at the Yankees' complex in the Dominican Republic, where he has met with executives for the Giants and Rangers, according to El Nuevo Herald. His agent said Ruiz expects to be in big league Spring Training and, at some point this season, to be in the Majors.

Ruiz was granted free-agent status in the summer, then was recently unblocked by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, making him a full-fledged free agent. At the time, ESPN.com's Jorge Arangure Jr. said he is "likely to get a multimillion-dollar signing bonus."

Ruiz, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs about 230 pounds, also gained experience as an outfielder while playing in the National Series in Cuba. Talent evaluators told ESPN.com in November that Ruiz moves around well enough to be considered an option in left field by clubs -- as evidenced by his 32 steals during the 2007-08 season.

Before defecting from Cuba, Ruiz -- who will turn 26 on March 24 -- was batting .305 with a .408 on-base percentage and a .467 slugging percentage through 52 games for his National Series club. In his previous full season, he batted .341 with 69 RBIs.

In his five-year National Series career, Ruiz sported a .330 lifetime batting average.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.