"Major League sources" are telling ESPN DFW, the Star Telegram, HardBallTalk and Diario de Cuba that Cuban defectee Leonys Martin is close to signing with the Texas Rangers. Martin would likely report to the Rangers' High A or Double-A team once he's ready to play but is reportedly receiving a major league deal, which speaks to his appeal on the open market and also means that a transaction will be needed to clear room on the club's 40-man roster.
John Manuel wrote about Martin last September when word surfaced that he had defected. Manuel projected a seven figure bonus and had this to say about his game:
He's a lefthanded hitter whose best tools are his speed and defense. He's a plus runner at least, being timed in 4.1 seconds to first base from the left side in Taiwan, and showed strong small-ball skills, with the ability to drag bunt for hits and handle the bat on the hit-and-run.
Martin is also regarded as a patient hitter willing and able to draw walks, which could be an attribute that separates him from another speedy left-handed hitting Rangers center fielder, Julio Borbon. He would become the most advanced outfielder with a legitimate shot at holding down a major league starting role. Engel Beltre is one of the system's best prospects, but the Double-A headliner still needs another year or two to polish his game. The club used their top pick in the 2010 draft (No. 17 overall) on Jake Skole, who will begin this season Friday in Low A.