The St. Louis Cardinals passed on the last big international talent and now he’s about to make waves in the MLB. Don’t make the same mistake with Oscar Colas.
Back in 2017, the number one international free agent was Luis Robert. The then-19-year-old was coming to the USA from Cuba and while his talent was raw, he had elite potential that the St. Louis Cardinals rarely had a chance at drafting without tanking.
With many of the usual teams unable to afford his price tag (due to international spending restraints from years prior), it made sense that the St. Louis Cardinals would be frontrunners for a player of his caliber, especially when it was just money that it took to acquire him.
However, the Cardinals let the White Sox swoop in and take Robert for a $26M signing bonus which they had to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax on and now Robert is the number three prospect in all of baseball.
Robert will likely see the MLB in 2020 after hitting for a .974 OPS with 16 homers in just 202 at-bats at AAA last year. He’s the real deal and at the end of the day now, I’m just glad he’s in the AL Central rather than the NL Central.
The Cardinals shouldn’t make the same mistake again with the next big Cuban prospect, Oscar Colas, the “Cuban Ohtani.”
Colas is already 21 and has spent the past two years in Japan with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in Japan and over that time, the year he played the most in was last year. In 2019, Colas hit .300 with an .864 OPS and 12 homers in just 73 games. Furthermore, he was 20 years old in a league where all his opponents were (on average) more than four years older than he was.
This league and environment could be considered the same kind of competition that a minor leaguer would face at AAA. As a lefty that plays first base and right field, he could fill the slugging needs at those positions.
As you can see in this video, Colas has an open stance with an almost Kendrys Morales-esque leg kick and swing with just a smidge of Anthony Rizzo in there. He keeps his hands higher than Rizzo, but you can see the power and speed he possesses here with the easy triple. Swing comps are a dangerous game to get into, but at first glance that’s what I see.
This video is a little more recent and I would say his swing looks even more reminiscent of Morales here. The other thing that’s easy to tell is that while he’s just 20 here, he is a big guy with an imposing frame. Baseball Reference has Colas listed at 6-1, 209 pounds, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that measurement came from a few years ago as he definitely looks big.
Colas isn’t just a left-handed slugger though, he can also pitch. Colas hasn’t pitched in Japan, but he has been known to hit 95 mph on his fastball. As far as how that side of his game will work out, it’s still to be seen. However, marketing himself like Shohei Ohtani did could certainly earn him more money.
Hitting and throwing left-handed, Colas could be a middle of the order hitter and could provide some sort of value with his pitching. The better strength is his bat for sure and he’s proven it at the equivalent of the highest level of the Minors.
Colas could be a flop while Robert flourishes, but for the Cardinals, they never get to draft in the top 10 picks of the draft. That’s where the elite talent is, but this is another chance to snag that talent without giving up anything other than cash.
If he signs when he’s 21, it may not be until the 2021-2022 season that Colas would break into the league, but that is a worthwhile investment in the future for a corner outfielder with the elite talent that Colas has shown.
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More will be written on Colas in the coming months as he will likely be available to sign during the 2020-2021 signing period that begins on July 2nd. When that happens, the Cardinals would be idiots to not get involved with this elite two-way talent.