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Dodgers sign Cuban pitcher to minor league deal for $8 million

Dodgers sign Cuban right-hander Pablo Millan Fernandez, hope to convert him from reliever to starter

It didn’t take long for the Dodgers to sign another pitcher after learning Hyun-Jin Ryu’s shoulder wouldn't allow him to start the season.

The Dodgers have signed Cuban right-hander Pablo Millan Fernandez to a minor league contract for $8 million. It’s pending a physical and Fernandez still needs a visa.

The signing, first reported by Ben Badler at Baseball America, comes as something of a surprise, largely because none of those breathless reports about the next hot Cuban prospect really included the 25-year-old Fernandez.

He was mostly used as a reliever in Cuba, though the Dodgers plan to convert him to a starter. Dodgers utility man Alex Guerrero, who played with and against Fernandez in Cuba, said Fernandez has five pitches and good command.

Badler said Fernandez was known more for his touch than pure stuff and was throwing his fastball last year in the 86-88 mph range but had upped it to the low 90s in recent workouts in Haiti. That’s at least curious.

Because the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Fernandez is over 23 and has been playing professionally in Cuba for more than five years, his signing does not count against the Dodgers' international bonus pool.

Last season in Cuba, Fernandez had a 2.83 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 19 walks (nine intentionally) in 57 1/3 innings. All but one of his 27 appearances came out of the bullpen.

The deal has not yet been officially announced by the Dodgers, so it is uncertain where he will be assigned, though with that kind of bonus and at his age, it is expected to be at an upper-level team.

Twitter: @stevedilbeck

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