Setting up for a season in baseball is like getting a website online. You need careful planning and you need to get all the necessary components in place before going live. Therefore, the process of scouting, signing and integrating new talent into a baseball team is a complicated undertaking. The Red Sox seem to have got it right with their new signing of Cuba Bess, who they have been nurturing since high school. Let’s learn some more about the new talent on the diamond.

Who is Cuba Bess?
Cuba Bess was born in September of 1997 in Fruita, Colorado where he attended Fruita Monument High School. He was drafted in 2016, at the age of 18, to the Colorado Rockies as part of the 39th round and was the 1160 pick overall. He played for Grand Canyon University, where, in 2019, he enjoyed the best batting average of the team. His given name is John Cuba Bess and he is the son of Johnny Bess.

At 22, nearly 23, Bess is a solid 6 foot 2 inches in height and weighs 205lbs. He has been signed as a batter and a thrower.

What else do we need to know?
Bess’s career took a difficult turn in 2018 when he was benched for the whole season due to injury. However, he came back with some aplomb in 2019 when he dominated the diamond. He was the leading batter for the Antelopes, with a batting average of .341, a slugging percentage of .631 and an on-base percentage of .476. It is no wonder that he quickly drew the attention of the scouts.

At the time of signing to the Boston Red Sox, Bess was an undrafted free agent. He is the second Antelope to make the move to the Red Sox since the MLB draft on June 10th. You can imagine that Cuba Bess’s first reaction was one of relief. When you have a stellar season and you sit as a free agent, you may feel the confusion and worry about your future. He also noted an overwhelming “excitement” as it was a lifelong dream to take to the diamond to play for such a legendary team.

The possibility of a move to the Red Sox has been in Bess’s mind since his high school senior year. He had been in constant communication with the scout from the team all that time. Rather than start his professional career straight out of high school, Bess instead decided to play for Grand Canyon University (GCU), based in Phoenix Arizona. Although delaying the start of a professional career is a brave choice, Bess was convinced it has benefitted him in the long run. The coaching staff at GCU are a talented bunch and without the pressure of the spotlight, Bess was able to develop fully as a ballplayer.

His team-mates and the coaching staff are obviously proud of his achievements, even though they may be sad to lose his contribution. Another person who is likely over the moon is Cuba’s father, Johnny Bess. Johnny was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1992 MLB Draft. Clearly, the talent is in the genes.

The benefits of rising through the Red Sox set up
Having been spotted in high school and garnered as a talent through the Red Sox farm system, Bess has had every chance to develop to become the complete player. The nurturing of talent, getting them to the right place physically, mentally and in terms of skill, is no small achievement. The 2019 season proved the talent of Cuba Bess, it is hoped that the coming season will prove he has the personality to exceed expectations in the major league.

The hope is that he will have a chance to continue this development. The current issues with the pandemic make the chances of a full season doubtful. Most minor leagues are already cancelled. Therefore, the challenge for Bess is to keep sharp and at this peak of performance that has won him this opportunity. Bess has been working out four times a week with the coach, working on speed and agility drills to ensure he is as sharp as possible when competition resumes. It is a strange balance of keeping physically and mentally in peak condition while still being fresh when the season starts.

The Red Sox seem to have landed their man. Both team and player have shown a sensible degree of patience in waiting for Bess to be ready for the spotlight. He is a player that comes from strong stock, with his father in the background. He also seems thoroughly grounded, opting to develop his talent at GCU before making the move to a professional contract. The mind and body and talent seem all in place – and he is an exciting prospect for the new season – should it get started.