The illuminated sign inside a press conference room at Marlins Park said it all — “Bienvenidos a Miami” followed by the names Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr.
In what marked the biggest signing splash under first-year owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman, the Marlins on Monday formally announced the acquisition of the Mesa brothers, a pair of Cuban outfielders the organization has been pursuing with determination in its quest to go from losers to winners.
“We want Miami to be the destination for top international talent,” Jeter said before introducing the two players. “We understand the diversity here in Miami. We’re embracing that diversity.”
Victor Victor Mesa, a 22-year-old outfielder, was the top-ranked international free agent prospect and received a bonus of more than $5 million to sign with the Marlins. Victor Mesa Jr., a 17-year-old outfielder, received a bonus of just less than $1 million.
Both players will start out in the Marlins’ minor-league system next season, though Victor Victor Mesa — the more accomplished of the two — will receive an invitation to major-league spring training in Jupiter.
The Marlins were competing with the Baltimore Orioles for the brothers.
But the appeal of Miami was impossible to resist for the two Cuban players.
“It’s not a secret,” Victor Victor Mesa said through a translator. “There’s a lot of Latinos here, a lot of Cubans, so we feel like home here.”