Gourriel, Matsuzaka have most MLB potential

From Cuba, Japan and Korea combined, check out the five players with the most major-league potential.

Originally Published: March 18, 2006
By Gary Gillette | ESPN Insider
With Team USA unexpectedly eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, there have been plenty of good reasons to watch the final weekend of play. One is to catch a handful of players from Cuba, Japan and Korea who have demonstrated over a three-week period that they are more than capable of playing in Major League Baseball if given a shot.

Yulieski Gourriel
AP Photo/Brennan LinsleyCuban second baseman Yulieski Gourriel has major-league tools.
All three national teams play very tight, team-oriented baseball. Cuba's pro-am team is not the best squad the island nation has ever sent to international competition, but it has substantial talent -- especially Yulieski Gourriel, who has turned the heads of fans and scouts alike. And the unheralded Koreans have surprised the overly confident Japanese, even though Japanese pitchers throw harder overall and the Japanese team has substantially more power.

Here are breakdowns of the top five players, shown in order of their potential. An honorable mention goes to right-handed Japanese pitcher Koji Uehara.

Gary Gillette | email

ESPN.com MLB insider contributor
Gary Gillette, a contributor to MLB Insider on ESPN.com, is the editor of the 2006 ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, which was published in March by Sterling. Gary can be reached via e-mail at GGillette@247Baseball.com.