MLB’s interest in baseball players from Cuba


Fred at the Cuba's famous Latinoamericano Estado
Fred at the Cuba’s famous Estadio Latinoamericano (c) Fred Thomas, III

It has been no secret that Major League Baseball may have finally found the combination to the vault!  Inside the vault was the treasure trove of players who hail from the Caribbean’s largest country known as CUBA.

Contrary to some who are just discovering or re-discovering this “forbidden” country, baseball has long been a trademark of the island.  Competition dates back to December 27, 1874.  Even as the Negro Leagues were building legendary status, due to legalized segregation practiced in the United States players were forbidden to join Major League teams.  It was during their heyday they found a welcomed ally and a fan base in Cuba who appreciated their style of play.  Those who remember the movie 42 may recall the scene when the Los Angeles Dodgers were trying to transition Jackie Robinson to first base?  It actually took place during a time when some of the Dodgers trained in Cuba.

Several years ago, I ran into Dodger great Tommy Lasorda at one of his favorite restaurants in Los Angeles.

“I have found memories of Cuba.  While with the Dodgers I pitched down there about six years.  I don’t like the government but I love the game of baseball.”

Once the Cuban revolutionist took place, baseball was banned, although temporarily.  The new regime understood the impact sport plays in our society, thus the Cuban National Team took on a new dimension.  They became a powerhouse and a powerful tool for the country.  The fact players were paid a pittance (in capitalist terms) is important, but not as important as the pride players took in being a part of the team.

Defections

During the last 15 years or so there has been an escalation of baseball players from Cuba who had the aspiration to play in the Major Leagues.  Those who arrived, although through very dangerous circumstances were welcomed.  Some eventually achieved success, but many more did not.

Major League’s interest in Cuban players is somewhat of an unknown topic.  However, those familiar with the sport simply know those players who are part of Cuba’s national baseball program are better trained and ready to transition at a quicker rate than other countries.  Thus, the floodgates have been cracked up so expect this number to increase, especially with Major League Baseball’s strategy to internationalize the sport.

Current Lineup

Currently, or as of this writing there are 22 players who are playing in Major League Baseball.  While 25 players make up the official roster, teams are allowed to stretch that number to 40 representing its active roster, so for the sake of argument of the 1,200 players, 22 or less than two percent are from Cuba.


Adeiny Hechavarria
Adeiny Hechavarria Tampa Bay Rays
Adonis Garcia
Adonis Garcia

Atlanta Braves

Aledmys Diaz
Aledmys Diaz

St. Louis Cardinals

Ariel Miranda
Ariel Miranda

Seattle Mariners

Armando Rivero
Armando Rivero

Atlanta Braves

aroldis-chapman
Albertin Aroldis Chapman

New York Yankees

Guillermo Heredia
Guillermo Heredia

Seattle Mariners

Jorge Carlos Soler
Jorge Carlos Soler

Kansas City Royals

Jose Antonio Iglesias
Jose Antonio Iglesias

Detriot Tigers

José Dariel Abreu
José Dariel Abreu

Chicago White Sox

Odrisamer Despaigne
Odrisamer Despaigne

Miami Marlins

Raisel Iglesias
Raisel Iglesias

Cincinnati Reds

Roenis Elias
Roenis Elias

Boston Red Sox

Yandy Diaz
Yandy Diaz

Cleveland Indians

Yasiel Puig
Yasiel Puig

Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasmani Grandal
Yasmani Grandal

Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasmany Tomás
Yasmany Tomás

Arizona Diamondbacks

Yoan Moncada
Yoan Moncada

Chicago White Sox

Yoenis Céspedes
Yoenis Céspedes

New York Mets

Yonder Alonso
Yonder Alonso

Oakland Athletics

Yunel Almenares Escobar
Yunel Almenares Escobar

Los Angeles Angeles


Major League Baseball returns to Cuba as part of Goodwill Tour

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