While we're on the subject, last April there was a story in the New York Times about how Major League Baseball is salivating at the prospect of exploiting all that new talent once Cuba opens up. No one was reading this blog then, but as I wrote at the time, I'm a bit dubious about how deep a talent pool it really is as we sit here today. Yes, some top shelf talent will certainly emerge at the outset, but I question whether it can really be a reliable pipeline like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, at least in the short term. Why? The relative lack of prosperity and the costs and time involved in the ramp-up of scouting and development.
Cuba, with a population of about 11 million, has about 2 million more people than the Dominican Republic, which suggests that it may produce slightly more players than does the latter. But the Dominican is wide open, more prosperous (which means more resources and people can be devoted to baseball as opposed to mere survival), and every team in Major League Baseball has had a training academy there for years. My guess: Even the teams that do the best in exploiting Cuban talent will only see a modest immediate uptick in the quality of their rosters, and at a great price, given the considerable work it will take to get a foothold in Havana.
Is it worth exploiting? Of course. Over time the country's love of baseball and presumable uptick in prosperity and access will yield increasing amounts of talent. But I don't think it's some untapped mother lode, and in the short term I don't think it will provide benefits that are on an order of magnitude greater than, say, putting more scouts in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, or hell, Texas.