Back in 2009, Cuban infielder Hector Olivera was a star for his Cuban national team, being ranked among players like Yeonis Cespedes and Aroldis Chapman. He has posted a .341/.462/.626 in 214 plate appearances with 17 home runs and 44 walks. He also was fourth in the Cuban league in OBP.
Since then he he posted a solid .316/.412/.474 in his 2013-2014 season with about 273 plate appearances in Santiago de Cuba, a ways away from Havana, after missing the entire 2012-2013 season due to a blood flow problem in his left bicep. This return in 13-14 put him back on track, and as of September of last year has defected from the country in hopes for playing on a major league team.
Despite the difficult-to-reach Cuban medical records, it appears that all of his DL time was due to his bicep issue, and after being cleared to play has shown that he's still very capable with a bat. So his Dominican Republic showcase in the middle of the week was guarantee to draw a good crowd. What it ended up drawing was over 200 scouts.
More than 200 scouts attended workout for Hector Olivera last week in DR. SFG, SD, TX, ATL, NYY among teams showing strong interest. #Cuba
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) January 24, 2015
Olivera is pegged as a second baseman, though interestingly back in the 2008 Beijing Olympics he played first base in their silver medal placement. Hector aligns with almost all of Preller's biggest interests in the offseason thus far; showing off a big bat while being a direct offensive upgrade to potential positions in much need of one. While Gyorko's low, low ranking in OBP is a target, Olivera's flexibility to first base coupled with his sensitive DL history might prove to be a more interesting slot.
Olivera showing oppo strength back in 2009 against South Africa. The guy needs some MLB-quality footage.
He turns 30 early this year, and posts at around 6'2" 220 lbs. His citizenship still has to be cleared in order to be able to even sign with the Padres, but the interest in him remains with the Friars yet to string together a confident infield offensive force.
Ben Badler of Baseball America writes that San Diego may be "most likely landing place" for Cuban infielder Héctor Olivera. AJ Preller was on-hand among the 200+ scouts attending Olivera's showcase in the Dominican Republic. The Giants, Athletics, and Braves are the three other teams showing the most interest.
Olivera went 3 for 7 in his at-bats against live pitching, and showed a solid defense at second base. He also fielded from third base, but showed a declined arm strength in comparison to previous years. Based on when Héctor defected from Cuba (back in September) there's a possibility he could be able to sign to the Padres before Opening Day on April 6.