Archive for the 'Cuba' Category

Top Cuban Prospects in National League

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

The list from last year had a player traded to the American League (Yusniel Diaz) and three drop from the list. No player from the list from last year graduated to the major leagues. We expect that to change after this year with Yoan Lopez providing the Diamondbacks with good bullpen work.

1. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - Since pitching for the 15 and under gold medal team and winning the MVP, Adrian has added some meat on his bones. That has upped his velocity to a steady diet of 93-95 mile per hour fastballs with an occasional helping of 97-98. His curve ball is also a high quality pitch. The Padres signed him for $11 million as a 17 year old. The pitches are all there, the command of those pitches can be a little spotty. This year he is pitching at AA as a 20 year old. He is struggling a bit with 11 walks in 20.2 innings, resulting in a 5.66 ERA. Unless he improves his command he will probably pitch all season in AA and will not see the major leagues until late next year. One of the strengths of the Padres is their depth in starting pitching.

2. Victor Victor Mesa OF (Marlins) - The Marlins season is not going well and the attendance is lagging. They did pull a coup signing one of the top international prospects and his brother in 2018. The father, Victor Mesa was a star of many international tournaments and played with Lourdes Gurriel, whose youngest son Lourdes Jr. appeared on this list last year. The big tool for Mesa is his speed, which will allow him to cover a lot of ground in center field with a strong arm. There is some question whether his bat will be one that will have an impact. Victor Victor signed for $5.25 million with his younger brother Victor signing for $1 million. The older brother had some up and down seasons in the Nacional Series, but felt the pressure of being the son of a legend. He is not making much of an impact in the Florida State League, hitting just .224 with a .274 OBA and a .260 slugging. All the defense in the world will not support that offense.

3. Michel Baez RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed Baez for $3 million, the same year they signed Morejon (2016). He is an imposing figure at 6′8″ 220 pounds. His fastball splits the plate in the mid-90s. His secondary pitches are promising but with his long limbs a consistent delivery is difficult resulting in poor command. If he fails to make it as a starter he has the velocity and intimidating presence to make it as a closer. He got a late start to the season but in AA he has made four relief appearances, striking out 13 in 8.2 innings, but giving up 10 hits. If he can show dominance in the bullpen he could see some time with the Padres as a September callup.

4. Malcom Nunez 3B (Cardinals) - The Cardinals signed Malcom in 2018 for just $300,000, the maximum salary they could sign international players because of penalties. They stuck him in the Dominican Summer League where he crashed the party, hitting .415 with 13 homeruns. The bat carries some big time power, with the potential to hit for 30 plus homeruns once he reaches the major leagues. He led Cuba to the gold medal in the 15 and under World Cup in Japan in 2016. His defense needs improvement, otherwise a move to first may be necessary, chipping away at his value. He is finding the Midwest League a little tougher than the Dominican Summer League, hitting just .183 in 21 games. Currently only one of his 13 hits has gone for extra bases, resulting in a paltry .197 slugging average.

5. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - The Dodgers spent a rich $16 million in 2015 to sign Yadier. His high 90s fastball convinced the Dodgers to give him his suitcase full of cash. His breaking ball pitches show promise but his change needs more work. His control is poor and he will need to improve on that if he hopes to stay in the rotation. This is his fourth year of pitching in the minors and the results have been mixed. Last year he walked 43 hitters in just 48 innings in AA, leading to a inflated 4.66 ERA. This year has not looked any better with a 14.73 ERA in two starts. Yadier needs to harness his command to get an opportunity to pitch for the Dodgers sometime in 2020.

6. Yoan Lopez RHP (Diamondbacks) - Yoan signed for $8 million in 2015. His indoctrination to United States baseball was rough as he quit his minor league teams his first two seasons in baseball. After his first year the D-Backs moved Yoan from the rotation to the bullpen. There his fastball hits in the high 90s. His persistence has paid off with his major league debut being made last year. This year he has been one of the better bullpen arms for the D-Backs major league team with a 1.52 ERA. The swings and misses are not prevalent but the opposition average is just .223.

7. Adolis Garcia OF (Cardinals) - The Cardinals paid him $2.5 million to leave Cuba. In the Nacional Series back in 2016 he was voted the MVP. Adonis is his older brother, who played briefly with the Braves before leaving for Korea to play in the KBO. Adolis is bigger than his brother and carries a bit more power. Last year he slugged 22 homeruns, leading to a promotion to the major leagues where he could only muster a .118 average. This year he has slugged 12 homeruns but is only hitting .224 in AAA. Strikeouts have been a big problem with 74 in 56 games.

8. Vladimir Gutierrez RHP (Reds) - At 6′0″ and throwing right handed, Vladimir is not a big presence. The Reds still shelled out $4.7 million to sign him in 2016. He does not throw hard, with his fastball sitting in the low 90s, but he can dial it up to the high 90s. His big swing and miss pitch is a quality curveball. His first two seasons Vladimir has been kind of vanilla, with ERAs above 4 and strikeouts to innings pitched just a shade under 9 per 9 innings pitched. This year he is struggling even more with a 7.64 ERA in 11 starts in AAA. He has been a victim of the new AAA balls, where 9 have left the park in just 74 innings. Vladimir needs to turn his 2019 season around if he hopes to reach the Reds this year.

9. Jose Israel Garcia SS (Reds) - The Reds paid $5 million to sign Jose to a contract in 2017. He is a defensive oriented player with a questionable bat. Last year the Reds placed him in Low A where he hit .245 with a .290 OBA. His walk to whiff ratio was 19/112. This year the Reds promoted Garcia to the Florida State League where he shows more of the same (.252, 9/31 walk to whiff). He is still a few years away from impacting the Reds.

10. Miguel Vargas 3B (Dodgers) - Miguel is the son of another Cuban legend, two time gold medalist Lazaro Vargas. Miguel starred on the Cuban youth teams before leaving with his father for the States. The Dodgers signed Miguel for $300,000 in 2017. Defensively he may lack the tools to play third so he will have to develop the power to fit at first. His slow foot speed rules out the outfield. Last year he dominated at the rookie levels, hitting .400. He struggled a little at Low A, hitting just .213 in 75 at bats. Another year in the Midwest League and he is hitting .316. The power is lacking but a 29/30 walk to whiff is evidence that he could hit for average.

Orioles Sign International Player

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

The Orioles are not noted for going out and signing international players. Their budget is small and the players they sign are not well rated as far as international signings are concerned. They prefer to trade their international salary cap for minor league players from other teams that usually never make a big impact. Some would argue it is why they are where they are, because they are playing in the major leagues with one hand behind their back, focusing on players from the domestic draft only while virtually ignoring the international market.

They did go out and sign a Cuban infielder Yorkislandy Alvarez that was good enough to play for the Cuban under 18 national team in Montreal in 2017. He bolted to Costa Rica after that tournament and then to the Dominican Republic. The Orioles have signed Cuban players in the past that have not panned out, Dariel Alvarez being one of them. They can only hope this player provides some level of contribution to the major league team, though it is not a headline international signing.

Top Cuban Prospects in the American League

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Not a lot of graduation from the list compiled last year. Lourdes Gurriel graduated, but his minor league time is still not finished as he struggles with his defense. Myworld has always felt he is better suited for the outfield. The bottom three players fell from the list and one player from the National League moved to the American League leaving room for three new players.

1. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - He has the five tools to make him an All Star. The White Sox hope those tools stand out in the major leagues after shelling out $26 million in 2017. The White Sox signed Jose Abreu to a $10 million bonus and a six year contract reaching $68 million. Robert has the speed to play centerfield with an arm capable of playing right. Last year the power did not show in an injury ravaged season, but this year he has already clubbed 10 homeruns in 41 games. He dominated High A pitching with 8 homeruns in 19 games. AA pitching has been a bit more of a challenge (.488 slugging). The one concern with Luis is his inability to take a walk and a high rate of striking out (10/42). After hitting .453 in High A he is still hitting an acceptable .274 in AA. An outfield of Eloy Jimenez and Robert could be special. If he continues to have success expect a September promotion if they can find 40 man roster space.

2. Yordan Alvarez 1B/OF (Astros) - Robert has more tools, but Alvarez has game changing power. Last year injuries limited him to 88 games but he still slugged 20 homeruns. The Astros have tried to fit him in left field but his defense is poor. A lack of speed makes his range below average. His arm is also better suited for left. This year he has already matched his 20 homerun output of last season, and he has only played in 47 games. The Astros had acquired Alvarez from the Dodgers for Josh Fields. The Dodgers had signed Alvarez to a $2 million bonus in 2016. Triple A no longer seems to be a challenge for Yordan so expect the Astros to find some room for him on their major league roster by mid-July.

3. Yusniel Diaz OF (Orioles) - The Dodgers had signed Yusniel for $15.5 million in 2015, then traded him to the Orioles in the Manny Machado trade. His first half season in Bowie was a disappointment (.239), showing a lack of power. His defense is better suited for right field so he needs to hit to fit in a corner outfield position. There is power in his bat, though that has been slow to appear in games. He is repeating AA and his current average (.225) is lower than last year at Bowie and his power is lacking (.225/.338). He needs to hit for power if he hopes to fit as a rightfielder.

4. Julio Pable Martinez OF (Rangers) - The Rangers have Shohei Ohtani to thank for the signing of Martinez. They traded for extra international signing money in the hopes of signing Ohtani, but when he decided to sign with the Angels the Rangers had some money to spend. The Rangers spent $2.8 million to sign him. The speed exists to play center, but his arm can play right and his potential power is ideal for a corner. His first year he played in the Rookie Leagues. This year he has graduated to High A where he is struggling to hit for average (.156). Strikeouts can also be a problem with 62 in just 45 games. This will slow his rise up the minor league ladder. With a hot streak he could become a September callup, but like most prospects they will have to release a player to make room on the 40 man roster.

5. Lazaro Armentaros OF (Athletics) - He came from Cuba with a lot of hype. The Athletics signed him for $3 million and once he got on the field the Athletics discovered all his warts. For one, his arm is not strong, better suited for left field. He also has trouble making contact, whiffing 115 times in just 79 games. This could impact his ability to hit for a high average as he rises up the minor league ladder. This year that is proving true with his .224 average. The power is slow to appear with 9 homeruns in 45 games. This surpasses the 8 homeruns he hit in 79 games last year. At 20 years of age the Athletics have plenty of time to show patience. Don’t expect him in the major leagues until around 2021.

6. Rogelio Armenteros RHP (Astros) - He was signed for $40,000 back in 2014 as a 19 year old. This year he has repeated AAA after going 8-1, 3.74 ERA last year. His fastball can be dialed up to the mid-90s, usually sitting in the Low 90s, but it is his changeup that is his swing and miss pitch. His breaking pitches still need a lot of refinement. His spot on the 40 man roster provides him an opportunity to pitch on the major league roster if a need develops. He must first improve on his 1-4, 5.73 ERA. The opposition is hitting him at a .299 pace. He is a starter in the minor leagues but the Astros can still use him in relief.

7. Cionel Perez LHP (Astros) - Cionel is more than a lefthanded finesse pitcher. The Astros originally signed him for $5 million but then reduced that amount to $2 million when a medical review provided some concerns on his elbow. So far it has stayed intact since his 2016 signing. His fastball can light the radar guns in the high 90s, but usually sits in the mid-90s. The Astros have been using him in relief as well as starting so the velocity is much greater if used out of the bullpen. His breaking pitches are solid but his change needs some work. That may put him in the bullpen. Last year he made his major league debut, pitching 8 games in relief. Command was a problem with 7 walks in 11 innings. This poor command has repeated itself in AAA with 20 walks in just 32 innings, upping his ERA to 6.19. Not finding his spot has also resulted in an ugly .296 opposition average. If he wants to see himself in the major leagues in 2019 he needs to get out of his lack of command funk.

8. Osiel Rodriguez RHP (Yankees) - The first new player on this list. The Yankees signed him for $600,000 in 2018. He will not turn 18 until November but he already shows a fastball that hits the lower portion of the upper 90s, but sits in the low 90s. He has lots of arm angles and lots of pitches with a slider, change and curveball that will all see improvement as he rises up the minor leagues. Osiel will not make his debut in the minor leagues until the rookie/short season leagues start.

9. Diosbel Arias SS/3B (Rangers) - He was teammates with Julio Pablo Martinez on the 18 and under Cuban national team. When the Rangers signed Arias for $700,000 in 2017 they reunited him with Martinez. His tools are not as strong as Julio. His lack of range may make shortstop a stretch but his lack of power will make third base a bad fit. His best bet may be as a utility player ala his countryman aledmys Diaz. His batting average since his signing is .373. He makes contact but lacks the speed to be a threat on the base paths. This year his average is .306 in High A. He is still a couple years away from thinking about the major leagues.

10. Raynel Delgado SS (Indians) - Delgado was born in Cuba but came to the States as a seven year old. The Indians selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 draft out of high school. A lack of speed limits his range for short and his arm is weak, so a move is a strong possibility. His bat should hit for a decent average but he has yet to make his minor league debut. The power could develop for a move to third or he could make it as a utility player. There are miles to go before he even sniffs the major leagues.

Hawks Take Advantage of their Cuban Connection

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Most of the Japanese teams scout the major leagues to find their foreign players. Some teams like the Hiroshima Carp use their Dominican academy to try to find diamonds in the rough. Alfonso Soriano was one of those diamonds in the rough that first played for Hiroshima before he went to the major leagues. The Hawks work with the Cuban Baseball Federation to find their foreign players.

Alfredo Despaigne was at one time one of the best hitters in Cuba. He rarely plays in the Cuban Nacional Series, saving his at bats now for the NBP. His lack of defense keeps him as a DH now. He started his NPB career with the Lotte Marines, playing with them for three years. This is his third year with the Hawks. His first year he hit 35 homeruns and drove in 103 runs. Last year injuries cut down 30 of his games, dropping his homerun total to 29 and his RBI production to 74. His batting average dropped from .262 to .238. It was his lowest average of his NPB career.

The 2019 season is not showing a lot of promise. His batting average has dropped even further to .236. His power production has dropped to a slugging average of .355, the lowest it has been in the NPB. If his struggles continue this could be his last year in Japan. He will turn 33 years old in June. Major league teams seem to have a reluctance to sign players older than 33.

The Hawks signed Yurisbel Gracial last year. The 33 year old played in 54 games, batting .292 with 9 homeruns. This year the Hawks recently called him up and in his first 8 games he is hitting .357 with two homeruns. Last night he hit a three run homer in the Hawks 12-11 win. In Cuba he was a power hitter for Matanzas for about ten years.

The one pitcher they acquired from Cuba is Livan Moniello. He is not a big guy, standing less than 6′0″ (though he is listed at 6′0″) but less than 140 pounds. He throws left handed and can hit the low 90s with his fastball. Livan pitches out of the bullpen as the Hawks setup reliever. His first two years he picked up 28 holds. Last year he gave up one too many long balls, forcing his ERA to rise from 2.52 his rookie season to 4.53. This year he has yet to give up an earned run. The Cuban Baseball Federation was prepared to make him available to major league teams but Trump nixed the agreement between Cuba and the major leagues.

The Hawks have been the best team the last few years in the NPB, winning the Japan Series the last two years and four of the last five. They generally do not allow their players to be posted. Yuki Yanagita has been one of the best position players in Japan. Last year he hit a career high 36 homeruns with a .356 batting average. Back in 2015 he was a 30/30 player with 34 homeruns and 32 stolen bases, winning the Pacific League MVP award. This year he has been stalled by injuries, playing in only 9 games. At 31 years old major league teams may shy away from him. He does have 154 NPB homeruns in 9 years and could become a free agent soon. He could probably start for any outfield in the major leagues.

One of the better pitchers in Japan is Kodai Senga. He has expressed interest in pitching in the major leagues but he is still a couple years away from free agency. His fastball has reached triple digits but sits in the mid-90s. Since 2016 he has struck out more than one batter per inning. He pitched for Japan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and was voted to the All World Classic Baseball Team. At 6′0″ he is not a tall pitcher but he is still just 26 years of age. This year his ERA is 1.46 in five starts with 54 whiffs in just 37 innings.

OFAC Disapproves Cuba/Major League Baseball Agreement

Monday, April 8th, 2019

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has ruled the agreement between Cuba and major league baseball can not be implemented. Any payments made to the Cuban Baseball Federation as a percentage of the payment made to a player is in essence a payment to the government and is illegal. The law as it applies to Cuba prevents any agency, organization or individual from compensating the Cuban government.

So it is back to the current form of free agency, where Cuban players arrange with smugglers to get them out of the country and into another country where they can negotiate with major league teams for their contracts. In the past Cuban players have found themselves in dangerous situations when smuggled out of the country.

34 Cubans Allowed to Play Major League Baseball

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

To make the defections of Cuban baseball players more humane, major league baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation have agreed to the following: 1) All players older than 25 years old with more than six years of service time would be eligible to negotiate with a major league baseball team and 2) The Cuba Baseball Federation would provide major league baseball with the names of younger players eligible to sign with major league baseball teams. The Cuban Baseball Federation would get a release fee for any signed player, similar to what exists in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Korean Baseball Organization and the China Professional Baseball League.

Below are a list of 34 names Cuba has said are free to sign with a major league baseball team.

1. Alfredo Fadraga Perez C, 19 (Ciego de Avila)
2. Ariel Martinez Marrero C, 22 (Matanzas)
3. Daniel Perez Perez Inf. 22 (Cienfuegos)
4. Cesar Prieto Hechevarria inf. 19 (Cienfuegos)
5. Andres Hernandez Diaz Inf. 22 (La Habana)
6. Norel Gonzalez Beltran Inf. 24 (Villa Clara)
7. Oscar Luis Colas Leon Inf. 19 (Santiago de Cuba)
8. Guillermo Garcia Garcia Inf. 18 (Granma)
9. Narde Yadan Cruz Calderin Inf. 18 (La. Habana)
10. Loidell Chapelli Zuleta INF. 17 (Camaguey)
11. Ricardo Ramos La O Inf. 22 (Santiago de Cuba)
12. Felix Javier Rodriguez Garcia, 20 inf, (Cienfuegos)
13. Geyser Cepeda Lima OF 21 (Sancti Spiritus)
14. Yoelkis Cespedes Maceo OF 20 (Granma
15. Sergio Bartelemi Correoso OF 23 Santiago de Cuba
16. Yoelquis Guibert Pelegrin OF 23 Santiago de Cuba
17. Maykel Yordan Garcia Molina OF 17 Las Tunas
18. Carlos Emilio Pelegrin Martinez OF 18 Pinar del Rio
19. Leonel Moas Acebedo OF 22 Camaguey
20. Livan Moinelo Pita LHP 22 Pinar del Rio
21. Raidel Martinez Perez RHP 21 Pinar del Rio
22. Andy Amaury Rodriguez Valdez RHP 19 La Habana
23. Yandi Molina Berrios RHP 19 La Habana
24. Alyanser Alvarez del Sol RHP 18 (Mayabeque)
25. Diosbel Napoles Rengifo RHP 21 (Mayabeque)
26. Pabel Hernandez Bruces RHP 21 (La Habana)
27. Pablo Luis Guillen Diaz RHP 20 (Villa Clara)
28. Daniel Conde Gonzelez RHP 23 (Villa Clara)
29. Yosimar Cousin La Rosa RHP 20 (Camaguay)
30. Rafael Sanchez Thorpe RHP 19 (Holquin)
31. Carlos Font Mustelier LHP 22 (Santiago de Cuba)
32. Norge Carlos Vera Aldana RHP 18 (Santiago de Cuba
33. Raidmon Figueredo Cruz RHP 18 (La Habana)
34. Yeudis Reyes Gamboa RHP 23 (Guantanamo)

Dominican Republic Still Leads in Foreign Major Leaguers

Monday, April 1st, 2019

According to a major league baseball press release there are 251 foreign players from 20 different countries or areas who appear on 25 man major league rosters, or are on restricted or disabled lists. That accounts for 28.5% of the players. The Dominican Republic again leads in the most major league players outside the 50 United States. Below is a breakdown of where all those foreign players are from;

1. Dominican Republic (102)
2. Venezuela (68)
3. Cuba (19)
4. Puerto Rico (18)
5. Mexico (8)
6. Japan (6)
7. Canada (6)
8. Curacao (5)
9. South Korea (5)
10. Colombia (4)
11. Aruba (1)
12. Australia (1)
13. Brazil (1)
14. Germany (1)
15. Lithuania (1)
16. Netherlands (1)
17. Nicaragua (1)
18. Panama (1)
19. Taiwan (1)
20. U.S. Virgin Islands (1)

Teams Announced for 12 and Under World Cup

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) 12 and under World Cup will be played in Tainan City from July 26 to August 4. Tainan City will be hosting the 12 and under until 2027, holding the next five events. They will be the Williamsburg of the WBSC. Fiji is the one interesting new player in this tournament. Taiwan won this event in 2011, the first year it was played, but the United States did not participate in that tournament. The last three events the United States has won the championship. Below are the groupings for the tournament.

Group A

Taiwan, Japan, Czech Republic, South Africa, Cuba and Fiji

Group B

United States, Mexico, Korea, Australia, Venezuela and Italy

Myworld Series del Caribe Team

Monday, February 11th, 2019

It is tough to come up with an All Star team of Series del Caribe players when you did not actually watch them play. Most of this assessment will be based on stats and what the player accomplished in the box score. Below are the players that made myworld’s All Star Series del Caribe Team.

Catcher - Wilken Castillo (Dominican Republic) .571 average, 4 RBIs and a 1.557 OPS

First Base - Victor Mendoza (Mexico) .375 average, .563 slugging, 5 RBIs with one homerun and a .938 OPS

Second Base - Elmer Reyes (Panama) .368 average, .632 slugging, 1.000 OPS, 5 RBIs with one homerun

Shortstop - Javy Guerra (Panama) .389 average, .722 slugging, 3 doubles and one homerun, 3 RBIs and 1.111 OPS

Third Base - David Vidal (Puerto Rico) .385 average, .529 OBA, .991 OPS

Utility - Allen Cordoba (Panama) .389 average and .450 OBA

Outfield - Alfredo Despaigne (Cuba) - .350 average, 5 RBIs
Outfield - Jilton Calderon (Panama) - .273 average, .455 slugging
Outfield - Yuniesky Larduet (Cuba) - .273 average, 4 runs scored

Starting Pitcher - Harold Arauz (Panama) 1-0, 0.90 ERA, 10 innings pitched

Starting Pitcher - Lazaro Blanco (Cuba) 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 12 innings pitched

Starting Pitcher - Nestor Cortes (Dominican Republic), 1-0, 1.80 ERA 5 innings pitched, one hit allowed

Starting Pitcher - Nestor Molina (Venezuela) 1-0, 0,00 5 innings pitched

Starting Pitcher - Luis Mateo (Panama) 0-0, 0.00, 7 innings pitched

Relief - Manny Corpas (Panama) 0-0, 2.25, 4 saves

Relief - Jumbo Diaz (Dominican Republic) 1-0, 0.00, 2 saves

Relief - Raidel Martinez (Cuba) 0-0, 0.00, 2 saves

Relief - Sergio Romo (Mexico) 1-0, 0.00

Panama Wins the Series del Caribe

Monday, February 11th, 2019

Panama has not won the Series del Caribe since 1950, but that is not their fault. When the Series del Caribe was first formed in 1949 they were one of the original teams who participated in the event. That ended in 1960 after Fidel Castro over ran Cuba and for ten years there was no Series del Caribe. It restarted in 1970 but Panama was not included in that new group. It was felt they were not talented enough.

The talent level for the Series del Caribe has dwindled down to the AA level at best. In years past you would have Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays play in the event. It was always to earn a few extra bucks. Now the ballplayers make too much in the major leagues to take a risk of injury, jeopardizing million dollar contracts. The talent in Panama has caught up to the Series del Caribe, or more accurately the Series del Caribe talent level has dropped down to the level in Panama.

Panama was only allowed to play because the original host Venezuela continues to struggle with upheavals and it was felt to hold the tournament there was not safe. It was the second year in a row the tournament was to be held in Venezuela and the second year it had to be moved because of violence. Last year Mexico agreed to host it at the last minute. They did want to bail out the Series del Caribe again. So it was either Panama or cancel the series. And to make it attractive to Panama they agreed to let the champions of the Panama League participate in the series.

Panama qualified for the championship by winning their pool. Cuba, despite their lack of offense won the tie breaker in their pool to face Panama in the championship. Cuba was only recently allowed to return to the Series del Caribe, but that was when they could produce name players that could attract a fan base. Most of those name players are in the major leagues now and the Cuban team is just a shell of its former self.

That shell failed to generate any offense again as Panama won the championship game 3-1. Harold Arauz silenced the Cuban bats for one run in five innings. Panama’s staunch bullpen then went to work to shut out the Cuban bats for the final four innings, Manny Corpas pitching the final inning for his fourth save of the tournament.

Panama got all the runs they needed in the first inning on a Allan Cordoba and Elmer Reyes RBI singles to take a 2-0 lead. Cuba showed a little life in the fifth on a Alfredo Despaigne double and a Carlos Benitez single to cut the lead to 2-1. An Elmer Reyes throwing error put runners on second and third with two outs but Daniel Castro popped out to first to end the threat. Cuba got only two hits after that, one of them a bunt single.

Panama scored another run in the seventh on a Rodrigo Vigil RBI single. With a runner on second and two out in the ninth Alfredo Despaigne came up to represent the tying run. He flied out to center to end the game.

Myworld will put together our all Caribe team later tonight.