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December 11, 2006

Juan Miguel Miranda

From ESPN.com -

The New York Yankees signed Cuban prospect Juan Miranda to a four-year contract worth $2 million, the player told ESPNdeportes.com.

The deal, which includes a signing bonus of $500,000, is a major league contract and requires the Yankees to place the outfielder-first baseman on their 40-man roster.

The signing was confirmed by a Yankees official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"In Cuba I grew up dreaming of playing in the big leagues, but I never thought it would be possible, much less with the Yankees," the 23-year-old Miranda said.

The left-handed-hitting Miranda was on the Cuban national team from 2001 until defecting to the Dominican in early 2004 following two previous unsuccessful attempts to leave Cuba by raft. Miranda gained Dominican citizenship last year. He left behind his parents and three brothers in the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio.

"Miranda is projected to hit over 20 home runs and hit .280," the Yankees official told ESPNdeportes.com. "He doesn't swing at bad pitches."

For what it's worth, I noticed that Miranda also played some outfield in 2004:

Pinar del Río became the first team to win a spot in the semifinal stage of the Cuban baseball championship on Friday when they beat host Isle of Youth 9-1 at the "Estadio Cristóbal Labra".

The victory for the Greenlegs came behind an excellent pitching by right-hander Vladimir Baños who scattered six hits in seven innings, and a 14-hit offense led by left-fielder Juan Miguel Miranda, with a homerun, a double and three RBIs.

And, he owes former Yankee Jose Rijo for helping him out once:

Jose Rijo went to the Dominican Republic last week to find and sign young prospects to increase Latin talent in the Washington Nationals' depleted farm system.

Little did Rijo know he would wind up being a freedom fighter of sorts.

The former Cincinnati Reds pitcher, who runs a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, saved six Cuban players who were jailed there from being deported to their native country.

Rijo, a Dominican native, pleaded their case to government officials and got the players released. They will be living and playing at Rijo's baseball academy for the time being, he said.

The Miami Herald reported the arrests of the six players last week and identified one as Juan Miguel Miranda of Pinar del Rio, who played two years with Cuba's national team. He had been suspended from Cuban baseball in the fall after government authorities accused him of planning to defect.

I just hope that he works out for New York better than Willy Miranda did....and, in any event, now, should Ivan Danko ever ask me "Do you know Miranda?" I will have a G-rated answer.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at December 11, 2006 09:10 AM