The Lost Prospects of Cuba – ESPN

In Santo Domingo, Aguilera lived in Santin’s own home, along with three other players, two Cubans and a Nicaraguan. To whip Aguilera into shape, Santin hired a trainer named Angel Presinal, who goes by the nickname Nao (pronounced “now”). Under Nao’s stringent tutelage, Aguilera says he lost close to 40 pounds in two months. Santin also found investors for Aguilera: a pair of Miami attorneys, who gave Aguilera a stipend of between $400 and $600 a month, depending on whom you ask. Santin declined to reveal their identities.

After some months, his fitness improving, Aguilera began taking part in tryouts and showcases. The one he recalls most clearly took place at the academy belonging to the Giants, in February 2015, 10 months after he’d left Cuba. Perhaps a dozen players took part in the showcase, all of them Cubans, including Héctor Olivera, who would sign with the Dodgers for $62.5 million. Scouts from all 30 teams stood around the field and in the bleachers behind home plate.

Aguilera was nervous. For the Cuban player migrant, the showcase is the highest-pressure moment of all. As he approached the plate for BP, he knew his time was now. When the pitches came and he started making contact, he could feel the stress vacating his body. He drove balls into right field and left. He launched home runs; he can’t remember how many. When he stood erect after his final swing, the sweat poured from his body. He felt he’d showed everything he had.

That particular showcase, it turned out, was the peak of Aguilera’s post-Cuba career. After that, he says, his time under Santin became a “disaster.” His daily training grew less routine, less scheduled, until it stopped altogether. He never went back to Nao’s gym. The stipend from his investor shrank,

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