Today the Braves completed the signing of 29 year old Cuban catcher Yenier Bello. Bello actually signed March first but had to await a visa and that finally came through today.
Cuban catcher Yenier Bello, whom #Braves signed in spring, has finally cleared all his visa paperwork, will report to minor league camp…
— David O’Brien (@ajcbraves) July 12, 2014
The picture above is from the video below. It’s about his signing with the Braves but my Spanish/Cuban goes no farther than ordering a beer and hoping I get one so I have no idea what he’s saying.
According to Baseball-Reference Bello began his career in 2005 when he signed with Sancti Spiritus but struggled at the plate and was a primarily a backup to Eriel Sánchez. The 2008-2009 season was a breakout year for him and an initial line of .286/.317/.528/ .845 with 13 HR in his first 199 ABt earned him selection to join Cuba’s provisional roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic but did he wasn’t on the final roster. His final slash for the season was a career high 300/.346/.550/.896. His 17 homers landed him a tie with Alexander Guerrero and José Dariel Abreu for 8th in the Serie. His 2009/10 season wasn’t as good and but he retained his power stroke finishing with a 253/.304/.415/.719 line.
His best year for Sancti Spiritus was 2010-2011 when he hit .320 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI in 92 games. Defensively he’s been above average holding down the stolen base threat throwing out 50% or runners in his 500 game career.
According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com Bello tried to escape from Cuba in 2012 but was caught and had his passport revoked. He retired from baseball and eventually got his passport back. He visited Ecuador on vacation and managed to make his was to Mexico, where he established residency.
In November last year he held workouts for about 20 teams in Tijuana, Mexico. According to Ben Nicholson Smith his workout consisted of “. . throwing to second and third base, hitting batting practice and live pitching.” In the same post Bryce Dixon of Primo Sports Group described him like this.
“Bello’s throwing arm and his power are his two calling cards,” Dixon said. “He’s training constantly to prepare to join a big league team in 2014.”
There was a report in January that he had signed a deal with the Dodgers but that proved premature and he eventually chose the Braves. The initial deal was for a $400K signing bonus and an invitation to spring training. Because of his age Bello’s signing bonus doesn’t count against the Braves Bonus pool allocation for 2013-14. The spring training invite will have to wait for next year but Bello is on his way to Orlando to begin his career with the Braves.
That’s A Wrap
The addition of another power hitting catcher to the Braves system gives them one of the deepest catching pools in the major leagues with Evan Gattis, Gerald Laird, Christian Bethancourt and Steven Lerud all major league caliber now. Laird and Lerude are free agents at the end of the year while Gattis,Bethancourt and Bello under team control for the next few years. Bello is near major league ready now and we know Gattis and Bethancourt can do the job. This kind of depth allows the GM to trade from strength without damaging the system. Such a trade isn’t close to happening but it’s nice to have the option if needed.