Yoenis Cespedes Believes in Fellow Cuban Jose Iglesias’s Hitting Capability, Hopes He Surrounds Himself With Right Mentors

Yoenis Cespedes Believes in Fellow Cuban Jose Iglesias's Hitting Capability, Hopes He Surrounds Himself With Right MentorsBOSTON –– The speedy shortstop gripped Yoenis Cespedes' attention years ago.

Each time the Athletics' outfielder turned on his television –– in his native country of Cuba –– he became enthralled with a teenage whiz that was shining for the junior national team.

Turns out, that standout was Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias, who was promoted to the majors before Tuesday's game. Although they never cultivated a close relationship in Cuba, Cespedes is aware of his countryman's high ceiling.

"Anyone who saw him play, saw those hands and glove work that he had," Cespedes said. "His defense was great. I've heard that he's still developing at the plate. But in Cuba, the times I watched him play on television, I saw him hitting well. So I know he is capable."

Through three seasons in the minors, Iglesias has struggled to match those expectations. Before Tuesday's promotion, the 22-year-old was 17-for-85 in Triple-A with a .200 batting average, five RBIs and only one extra-base hit.

Hitting, however, has proven to be Cespedes' forte. Since inking a four-year, $36 million deal in the offseason, the 26-year-old has raked for the Athletics in his rookie campaign, unloading five home runs and 20 RBIs.

Due to that prowess, Cespedes bypassed the minors altogether. But he cited his age and experience on Cuba's national team –– where he faced MLB competition –– for the reason his learning curve has progressed quicker than Iglesias' at the plate.

"There weren't a lot of big league pitchers that I faced in those tournaments, but there was enough that had been in the majors for a few years," Cespedes said. "That's why I've had chances to go against pitchers with major league experience that he didn't have. All he had was junior national team experience."

With the lack of seasoning, Iglesias has been often criticized for emulating other sluggers' stances. In recent years, he's attempted to adopt Yankees third basemen's Alex Rodriguez's style.
For Iglesias to fulfill his potential, Cespedes believes the shortstop should align himself with other company.

"You have to surround yourself with good hitters, but hitters of his caliber," Cespedes said. "It wouldn't be wise to surround himself with a guy like Albert Pujols or other home run sluggers because he's not a home run type of hitter. It has to be hitters that have the same qualities as him and that have had success in the majors.

"He needs to pick their brains and ask them for advice. Everything they say, you try it. If it works, keep doing it. If not, then he should change it," Cespedes added. "You have to really put every effort to do that, or it's not going to work out for him."

In the short term, Iglesias' stint with the Red Sox is likely a temporary one. Even so, Cespedes intends to keep tabs on the speedy shortstop's development.

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