Today's daily defector is Dayron Varona. Varona is a centerfielder from Camaguey. His departure from Cuba was originally reported in November, but that appears to have been inaccurate. Dayron did indeed attempt defection in mid-November, but failed and was suspended. Regardless, he left the country sometime between then and January, and is currently training in Miami. I can't find an accurate birthdate for Varona, but I'm estimating it at between July and November 1988, which would make him 25 years old. He played in parts of 7 seasons for Camaguey.
Varona is somewhat of a local hero in Camaguey. Last season, Cuban baseball started experimenting with a new format. The first half featured all 16 teams playing one another; in the second half, the top 8 teams and the bottom 8 split up and played amongst themselves. As part of the new format, top teams were reinforced with a few players from the bottom half. Varona was chosen to play center for Villa Clara. He was a key contributor in their championship run and gave Camaguey fans the rare chance at a rooting interest in the playoffs.
Another "I" vs "Y" Controversy
When he entered into la Serie Nacional, Dayron was sometimes written as "Dairon." Over the years, everyone seemed to settle on the version with the "Y", and I was abundantly prepared to abide by that decision before seeing this video:
In it, Verona is interviewed about Villa Clara's championship run in front of a sign, presumably made by a close friend or family member, reading "DAIRON CAMPEÓN." Come on, defectors. I can't be expected to fight these battles for you single-handedly. Your agent and his PR people work for you; use them. I give up.
Dayron Armando Varona Suarez stands 5'9" and weighs 170 pounds. There's not much information out there about him, but he appears to have a particularly strong arm, and he has a scrappy look about him. Visual evidence of scrapitude:
Dayron Varona Stats
Former teammate Dariel Alvarez actually seems like a pretty good comparison. Alvarez struck out at a much lower rate in Cuba, but Varona is in all likelihood a better defender, as Alvarez was restricted to playing corner spots while Varona primarily played center. Alvarez signed with the Orioles last summer for $800k, which is as good an estimate as any for Varona. His offensive numbers are OK, but not great. Some team may want to give him a look at the AAA level and possibly use him as a utilityman. He has played around the diamond a fair bit, making appearances at 2nd, 3rd, and even one game at catcher.
For more defector profiles, go here.