Yoenis Cespedes: Oakland Athletics CF Has His Moments in MLB Debut

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterMarch 28, 2012

Cespedes was 1-for-3 with a double in his MLB debut
Cespedes was 1-for-3 with a double in his MLB debutKevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Yoenis Cespedes made his highly anticipated major league debut on Wednesday morning, as the Oakland A’s dropped the first game of their two-game series against the Seattle Mariners in Japan.

Cespedes, who I wrote about yesterday, finished his first big league game 1-for-3 with a double and a pair of strikeouts and was also hit by a pitch.

Starting in center field for the A’s, the Cuban defector wasn’t particularly challenged over the course of the game, though he did record two put-outs as well as an assist (thanks to a timely cut by first baseman Adam Rosales).

In Cespedes’ first major league at-bat in the bottom of the second inning, he struck out swinging after chasing a fading, 1-2 changeup from Felix Hernandez.

Facing Hernandez once again in the fifth inning, the right-handed hitter—who was batting seventh for the A’s—was drilled on the right arm by a running fastball.

He fared much better in his third at-bat against Hernandez, though, as he was able to wait back and get his hands extended on a 1-1 breaking ball, roping a one-hopper off the center field wall.

Although he did take some interesting swings over the course of the game, the cut he took on a quality curveball from King Felix was impressive. While raw strength and athleticism will always be part of Cespedes’ game, the 26-year-old's biggest challenge will be recognizing and adjusting to off-speed pitches.

Obviously, his double against Hernandez is an extremely small sample, especially when considering the flailing, pull-heavy swing he took at a 1-2 curveball from Tom Wilhelmsen in the bottom of the ninth. (Think he was trying to hit a walk-off? Yeah, me too.)

However, the well-struck double was still encouraging to see in his first big league game.

Cespedes and the A’s will face left-hander Jason Vargas to conclude the two-game series in Japan.