Carbonell’s signing by the Giants in June didn’t create the same type of buzz as some of the recent Cuban defectors, but he is quietly off to a nice start in the minor leagues and has one major goal in mind.
“My main goal is reaching the Major Leagues and helping the Giants win,” Carbonell, an outfielder who is playing with the San Jose Giants, said through translator Lipso Nava. “I like to watch some of my countrymen like [Yoenis] Cespedes, [Aroldis] Chapman and [Yasiel] Puig. It gives me a confidence boost watching guys from my country make it to the big leagues and play because one day I may be there. I want to copy want they’re doing and have success at the major-league level.”
While Carbonell isn’t projected to have the same success as those guys out of the gate, the Giants saw him as a potential gem. The 23-year-old is the first Cuban defector the organization has signed since 1996. Carbonell’s deal is four years worth $3.175 million, along with incentives.
The 6-foot-3, 196-pounder had a 10-game stint in the rookie-level Arizona League to start off his professional career, where he hit .314 with three doubles and a home run. He can play all three of the outfield positions with his blazing speed, but primarily plays center field.
His last 15 games have come with San Jose. The switch-hitting Carbonell has shown signs of his five-tool ability and owns a .273 average to go along with three home runs and nine RBIs. The highlight of Carbonell’s young career came in a game last week, as went 4-for-5 with two home runs and three RBIs.
“I’m paying a lot of attention to what the coaches have to say,” Carbonell said. “I’m working hard and putting in extra hours to make this happen.”
Carbonell has also enjoyed his experience thus far in San Jose.
“Being in San Jose has been nice so far and I’m really happy with the atmosphere here,” Carbonell said. “I’m happy with the coaches and the way I’ve been treated. I’m definitely willing to help the [San Francisco] Giants one day.”
Carbonell’s Class A Giants will go on a seven-game road trip to conclude the regular season starting today against the the Lake Elsinore Storm, the leaders of the California League South Division. The Giants are currently in second place in the North Division and contending for a wild-card spot.
After playing four seasons in the Cuban serie nacional, Carbonell admits there has been an adjustment period now that he’s playing in America, but thinks he’s handling the change just fine.
“My approach and mentality doesn’t change,” Carbonell said. “When I’m on the field, I play hard and try to help the team win games. It’s a similar type of baseball, the only difference is it’s more professional here, more demanding and there is better competition.”
The Cuban native misses his country, but understands this is a great opportunity.
“I miss my family and being able to go out with my childhood friends and just the way they treated themselves.”