The Rays signed Cuban outfielder Dayron Varona in May, and it came with the question: who is Dayron Varona?
At the time, the most anyone had seen of him was a workout in front of scouts in January and one game against Team USA. From that, scouts gathered up enough to consider Varona an above average fielder with the matching speed to man any position in the outfield.
Keith Law of ESPN graded Varona's arm in his full report ($) as a plus-plus (65-70). In the same report, Law also said there wasn't enough in the batting practice he saw to give a definitive grade on Varona's hit tool and whether or not it could translate to a major-league regular.
One thing for certain we know about Varona is his age; he's already 27 and will turn in 28 at the end of February. Despite that, the Rays elected to start Varona in Class-A Advanced Charlotte to feel out where he stood.
Unsurprisingly, he hit at a blistering pace with a .377/.386/.551 split in 15 games, but then hit somewhat of a road block in Double-A ball, cooling off to a .264 average and 114 wRC+. While still above-average, it wasn't the same utter domination Varona had in Charlotte, so it was likely where he belonged in 2015.
Varona was 4.4 years older than the average player in Class-A Advanced and 2.9 years older in Double-A. He has yet to show he can hit against pitchers around his age stateside, but he did have a career .845 OPS while playing Cuba, where he was anywhere from 2.4 to 5.7 years younger than the average player there from when he was 19 to 25.
It's still hard to garner much about Varona's hit tool; everything we've seen so far has to be taken with a grain of salt because of the age gap between Varona and the competition. He hit 10 home runs in 69 games with Montgomery for what it's worth, but what his true raw power is uncertain.
From what most reports gather, Varona has the defensive floor to be a fourth outfielder and that's what the team signed him for. While there is obviosuly hope Varona grows into something more, it is hard to imagine considering how old Varona already is.
Varona has a much quicker path to the majors thanks to Joey Rickard and Tyler Goeddel being selected in the Rule 5 Draft. He should advance to Triple-A Durham next season to start off 2016 and could look to make his pro debut at some point this season.
Most likely, Varona will be considered a speedy fourth outfielder with an uncertain hit tool until we see him at the major-league level.