The road taken to this point by Yoenis Cespedes can surely help his younger half-brother Yoelkis as he tries to make his way to the big leagues. The New York Mets‘ slugger defected in 2011 and had to go through a lot to be where he currently is. Among the sacrifices he had to make was not talk to his family for years.
“It was really difficult,” Yoenis Céspedes said to MLB.com. “It wasn’t just not being able to talk to him (Yoelkis,) but I wasn’t able to talk to my father, and also another sister that I have, and also other family members that I still had in Cuba.”
When Yoenis defected, Yoelkis was 13 years old. They were raised in different environments but grew close with each passing year.
However, the communication was extremely difficult once Yoenis established residency outside of Cuba. He wasn’t allowed to return and spent eight years without seeing his little brother, not to mention five years without talking to him.
Yoelkis then joined the Cuban national team and that’s when he received his first cell phone and was able to call his big brother.
Just last year, Yoenis was cleared to return to his homeland, and that’s when he reunited with Yoelkis.
Now, Yoelkis defected while participating in the Can-Am League in New York last June, and then traveled to the Bahamas. There, he worked out with his brother while waiting for MLB to declare him a free agent.
That is expected to happen on March 18. Yoelkis, who is 22 years old, will have showcases for all 30 teams in Arizona and Florida. Of course, his brother will be there to support him.
The Mets’ slugger is “excited” for his brother
“I think I’m even more excited for him than I was when I first signed,” said Yoenis, who put pen to paper on a four-year, $36 million contract with the Oakland A’s when he was 26. “I think at the age he is right now, and the resources, the conditions that he has to be able to play — I think they’re much better than what I had when I first signed. So I’m really excited.”
In the offseason, Yoenis Cespedes was somewhat limited by injuries. In fact, he hasn’t played with the New York Mets since July 2018. But time passed and he was able to join Yoelkis in the Bahamas and do some workouts. He taught him, among other things, how to be more of a home run threat.
“When he first got here, he was a four-tool player,” the New York Mets’ star said. “He could hit for average, he could do it all, but he just didn’t have the power at that point. But once he started working with me — I’ve been working with him since October — he [developed] the power. So for me, he’s a five-tool player.”
According to Yoenis, Yoelkis is “a good kid, really calm, doesn’t go out to parties, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke.” When they are together, Yoenis said to Anthony DiComo, Yoelkis likes to “help with farm work and play dominoes.”
“We’ve had a lot of conversations about not just about baseball, but also about life,” Céspedes said. “The lifestyle that we come from [in] Cuba, it’s a different lifestyle completely. But we have spoken a lot about it, and up until now, it’s been good.”