Archive for the 'Cuba' Category

Cepeda Becomes One of a Kind in Cuban Baseball

Saturday, December 19th, 2020

During the time when Cubans were defecting like an open bag of M&M’s, Frederich Cepeda stayed in Cuba. Not because he was not good enough to play in the major leagues. More so because he was a bit too aged for what major league teams were looking for in a baseball player. It appears he has aged like fine wine. He may be one of the best hitters the major league teams never signed.

The former outfielder who now spends more of his time at designated hitter became the first Cuban player in the history of the Nacional Series to accumulate 2,000 hits, 300 homeruns and 400 doubles according to the WBSC website, though Baseball Reference still shows him falling short of those numbers (1901, 292 and 371). The 39 year old started his career in 1997 playing for the Sancti Spiritus Gallos. He is still playing for them now. They are currently in second place in the Cuban League.

There is a lot of history in his game, something he can tell youngsters once he retires. An Olympic gold and silver medal achieved in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008). One year of playing the game in the NPB in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants (2014), though he only hit .163 in 129 at bats. Participation in World Cups and World Baseball Classics. The game of baseball has taken him to all corners of the world. And he has come back as a champion in many of those events, taking home eight gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze.

Yuriel and Lourdes Gurriel played with him for Sancti Spiritus. Yuriel is only two years younger than Cepeda, but has still had success in the major leagues, including a World Series ring with the Houston Astros, something he never accomplished in Cuba. The Sancti Spiritus Gallos have yet to win a championship with Cepeda playing on the team. The only championship they have won was in 1979.

Perhaps the 2020/21 season will give him a Cuban championship with Sancti Spiritus.

Cuban All Star Game

Friday, December 4th, 2020

The Cuban Naccional Serie had their All Star game. Normally it is an East versus West affair. This year they changed it up by making it a Future Stars (players under 25) versus the Present Stars (players 25 and older). The Future Stars won the battle 8-6 giving Cuban fans hope that perhaps baseball is getting better in Cuba. Now if they can only keep those players in Cuba.

Santiago Torres was voted the MVP in the game. He hit a solo homer in the eighth with the game tied at 6-6 to put the Futures ahead for good. He also finished the game 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs. The Future Stars came from three down to score five runs in the last three innings to win the game.

The bullpen for the Future Stars shut down the Current Stars after they scored two runs in the fourth to take a 6-3 lead. Five different relievers combined to shut out the Current Stars for the last five innings, restricting them to just two hits. Andy Rodriguez got credit for the save, striking out three of the five hitters he faced in his 1.1 inning of work. Laidel Torres got the win for pitching a shutout inning in the seventh.

The two starting pitchers were not effective. Future Star pitcher Yosimar Cousin could not retire any of the four batters he faced. They all came around to score after a grand slam from Lisban Correa. Current star pitcher Lazaro Blanco at least retired two hitters, but he also failed to survive the first inning, allowing three runs.

Ivan Prieto had a clutch pinch hit solo homerun in the eighth to tie the game. Future Star Javier Carabeo led his team in hits with three. Humberto Bravo led the Current Stars in hits with three. Lisban Correa slugged a grand slam homerun in the first inning off Cousin, the first grand slam ever hit in a Cuban All Star game. Lisban is also the Cuban Naccional Series homerun leader.

They did hold some special events at the All Star game. Jose Luis Gutierrez was the fastest player from home to first with a time of 3.43 seconds. He also was the fastest player running home to home in 13.95 seconds. The homerun derby was won by Yasser Julio Gonzalez.

Cesar Prieto Breaks Cuban Hitting Streak Record

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

In the Cuban Naccional Series, Cienfuegoes Elefantes 21 year old second baseman broke the 37 game hitting streak record that had been held by Rey Isaacs since 1994. Prieto is third in the Cuban League in batting average at .402, just behind Luis Vicente Mateo (.404) and Humberto Bravo (.403). The hitting streak finally ended at 45 games.

Prieto was a star for the Cuban U18 World Cup team in 2017 when he hit .581. He made the All Star team for that tournament along with United States future stars Brice Turang, Alek Thomas and Mike Siani. Some other United States players who played in the tournament who did not make the All Star team include Triston Casas, Matthew Liberatore and Ryan Weathers. Many of these players appear on Top 100 prospect lists in the minor leagues.

Prieto is a player to be watched.

Series Del Caribe Scheduled for January

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

The Series del Caribe is scheduled for January 31 and will run until February 6 in Mazatlan, Mexico. Six teams are being planned for the tournament, but that all depends on if each of the winter leagues can get their season started. The traditional four of Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Mexico will be playing along with Colombia and Panama.

The Dominican Republic just began their winter league last Sunday. Mexico had to postpone their season for eleven days because of corona virus concerns but hopes to resume their season soon. Venezuela and Puerto Rico plan to bein their season December 1. Last year Cuba did not participate because of their inability to obtain a visa. When it was announced that Cuba would not participate in the 2021 Series del Caribe, Colombia will have a second opportunity to participate.

It is possible if one of the winter leagues can not complete their season Nicaragua could become the sixth team. They have already started their winter league.

Cuban Baseball Openers

Monday, September 14th, 2020

Over the weekend the Cuban Nacional Series opened up their season. Saturday was the opening day. Below are the results:

Camaguey 15 Matanzas 8

The semi finalist from last year beat the defending champion in the opener. Big days were had by Alexander Ayala and Leonel Moa, who each hit a homerun and drove in four runs. With his four hits Moa was a triple short of the cycle, scoring three runs.

Jefferson Delgado and Yasiel Santoya each went deep and drove in three runs for Matanzas. Matanzas ace Yoanni Yera was not effective coughing up eight runs in his five innings of work.

Mayabeque 9 Las Tunas 5

The game went 10 but Mayabeque outscored Las Tunas 5 to 1 in the final frame. Orlandro Lavandera went deep with a three run homerun in the tenth to win it and Dennis Laza used his three hits to drive in three.

Holquin 7 Pinar Del Rio 1

Carlos Alberto worked a solid seven innings, giving up just one run on five hits. He was helped on offense by Jorge Luis Pena with his homerun and two RBIs. Holquin scattered 11 hits.

Artemisa 3 Granma 2

In one of the closer matches Artemisa rallied for two runs in the ninth inning to pull out the victory. Lazaro Blanco had pitched 8 strong innings, allowing just one early run before turning the ball over to Carlos Rene Santana in the ninth. He failed to protect the lead. Ronny Proenza and Gabriel Garbey got the final two run scoring singles. Jose Garcia pitched the ninth to get the save, despite walking two and giving up a hit.

Santiago de Cuba 7 Isla de la Juventud 6

Santiago rallied for three in the eighth to take a 6-4 lead but Juventud scored two in the top of the ninth to tie it. The third hit by Ariel Enrique proved to be the walk off to lead Santiago to victory. Osday Silva hit a key two run homer for Santiago in the eighth while Leonardo Urgelles and Aquimo Jimenez had two run bombs for Juventud. Aquimo hit his two run homer in the ninth to allow Junentud to tie.

Industriales 10 Guantanamo 4

Yoandry Ugelles drove in three with his pinch hit homerun and Industriales rallied for 9 runs in the last three innings to pull out the victory. Frank Navarro had allowed just one run in the first six innings but tired in the seventh, giving up a three spot.

Cuban National Series to be Televised by WBSC

Friday, September 11th, 2020

The Cuban National Series will begin tomorrow with a game between the defending champions Matanzas against the second place team Camaguey. If you are interested in watching any of the games the World Baseball and Softball Confederation has obtained exclusive rights to televise National Series games. To watch them you can go to GameTime.Sport.

The 75 game regular season will end on December 27. The top eight teams will play from January 9 to 14. The final four teams will play with expanded rosters from January 17-25. The championship round will then be January 28 to February 5.

MLB First - Back to back to back to back by Foreign Born Players

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

Three of them were Cubans and the last was from the Dominican Republic. Back to back to back to back homeruns have been accomplished ten times in major league history, but this is the first time that all four homeruns were hit by foreign born players.

Yoan Moncada started the party off with a three run homer. Yasmani Grandal followed with a homerun and Jose Abreu went deep to make it the first back to back to back for Cuban born players. Dominican Eloy Jimenez finished it off with a homerun. For those who were wondering, Luis Robert was seventh in the batting order, Eloy Jimenez fifth.

WBSC Has Rewind of Last Olympic Gold Medal Game

Saturday, August 8th, 2020

You can watch the last Olympic Gold Medal baseball game that was played between Korea and Cuba that was played in Beijing, China back in 2008. There was enough interest in China that close to 10,000 attended the game. The starting pitcher for Korea was Hyu-Jin Ryu, who had just won the KBO Rookie of the year award. He is the same Ryu who pitched for the Dodgers and now the Blue Jays. The Cuba starter was Norberto Gonzales.

Go to wbsc.org to watch the game. Myworld went to Beijing a couple years after the game was played. They had already torn down the stadium and replaced it with a mall and a parking lot. There was some talk that they were also going to build a basketball venue at the site, but myworld could not confirm that.

That shows you what China thinks of baseball.

White Sox Make History with Cuban Batting Order

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

The Chicago White Sox made history by becoming the first team in major league history to have the first four players in the batting order born in Cuba. Because of the injury to Tim Anderson, Luis Robert took the lead off spot. Yoan Moncada batted second and played third. Jose Abreu hit third and played first base. Yasmani Grandal, who grew up in the United States but was born in Cuba and migrated here as a youngster, batted cleanup.

The top four in the order did pretty good, leading the White Sox to an 11-5 win over the Kansas City Royals. Luis Robert went 4 for 5 with a homerun and two runs scored and driven in. Moncada went 3 for 5 with two runs scored. Jose Abreu went 2 for 6 with one run scored. Yasmani Grandal closed out the hitting going 2 for 5 with two runs scored and driven in. That is 11 for 21 with seven runs scored and four driven in.

If not for the last two batters in the order it would have been an all Latin lineup. Dominicans Edwin Encarnacion, Eloy Jimenez and Leury Garcia batted fifth, sixth and seventh in the White Sox order. The last two spots in the order were filled by United States born Adam Engel and rookie Nick Madrigal.

The Royals tried to counter the batting order by starting the recently acquired Cuban Ronald Bolanos, making his second start of the season. He did not survive to get to the third inning, giving up five runs in 1.2 innings. He gave up two long balls. Jorge Soler was also in the batting order for the Royals, making it 6 of the 20 players in the starting lineup born in Cuba. Gio Gonzalez was the starting pitcher for the White Sox and he has Cuban ancesters, though he was not born in Cuba.

Top Foreign Countries for Major League Players

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

Baseball America provided an article that identified all the countries that played major league baseball. Below is the list of those countries, separated by hitters and pitchers.

Top Offensive Players

1) United States, 2) Dominican Republic, 3) Venezuela, 4) Cuba, 5) Puerto Rico, 6) Curacao, 7) Canada, 8) Colombia, 9) South Korea 10) Aruba

Even when you add Aruba, Curacao and Netherlands together it still does not get them into the top five.

Top Pitchers

1) United States, 2) Dominican Republic, 3) Venezuela, 4) Japan, 5) Mexico, 6) Canada, 7) Puerto Rico, 8) Colombia, 9) Cuba, 10) Panama

South Korea, Taiwan and Australia just missed making the top ten. The ranking was measured by plate appearances and innings pitched.