56 NS: Young Cuban Players Manning Up
With the defection of a number of Cuban players to the major leagues an opportunity opens up for young Cuban players to earn a spot in the starting lineup or in the rotation. Below are some players in Cuba 24 years of age or younger who are excelling in the Nacional Series.
Myworld does not know a lot about these players but their numbers seem to show the ability to play this game. Camaguey seems to have the top talent when it comes to younger players.
Luis Robert Moirán (Ciego de Avila) (Photo)- At 19 years of age he leads all players in homeruns with 12. There was a time a couple years ago when 20 homeruns was common in a Cuban season, but most of those players are on U.S. soil now trying to find a major league team to sign them. Luis is hitting .393 with 39 RBIs and a .519 OBA. He is currently one of the most impressive hitters in the league, even at this young age.
Victor Mesa Rios (Matanzas - CF) - His dad was a star who played in a number of international tournaments. Don’t be surprised if he is not the centerfielder for Cuba in the WBC. He is only 20 years old and leads the Nacional Series in stolen bases with 22 in 28 attempts. He is also hitting .329 with 4 homeruns and 31 RBIs. Better plate discipline would make him a better lead off hitter.
Julio Martínez Sánchez (Camagüey - CF) - Another speedster to patrol centerfield. He is also 20 with a higher .435 OBA, with 39 walks in 50 games. He is hitting .327 with five homeruns and 24 RBIs. Julio is 19 for 22 in stolen base attempts, a better percentage than Mesa, but even though he gets on base more he is more selective in stealing bases.
Ariel Martínez Marrero (Matanzas - C) - A 20 year old catcher for the top team in the league. He shows he has a bat with a .326 average with 3 homeruns and 25 RBIs. He shows some patience at the plate with a .423 OBA.
Leonel Segura Morales (Camaguay - 1B) - The 22 year old needs to show more power for his position. His .341 average is impressive but only two dingers is not what major league scouts look for at this position.
Norel González Beltrán (Matanzas - LF) - A third Matanzas player under the age of 25, the 22 year old shows some power with 8 homeruns and carries a .326 average.
Rafael Viñales Alvarez (Camagüey - C) - The oldest prospect on this list at 24 Rafael is hitting .306 with 9 homeruns and 33 RBIs.
All of the pitchers below throw right handed. None of them have a particularly impressive whiff to walk ratio as was the case with Aroldis Chapman when he was pitching in Cuba. So there does not appear to be any young power arms in Cuba at the moment for scouts to salivate at.
Yariel Rodríguez Yordi (Camagüey) - At 19 the youngest pitcher on this list. At 5-3 he has a winning record with a solid 3.07 ERA.
Jose Ramón Rodríguez (Isla de la Juventud) - At 24 years of age he is the oldest pitcher on this list. His 7-3 record and 2.37 ERA tops the other prospects.
Luis Manuel Castro (Mayabeque) - 22 years old, 5-3, 2.68 ERA.
Arbelo Quiróz Martínez (Camagüey) - At 21 he is two years older than his rotation mate Yariel. He is 5-6, 2.83.
Dayron Rivera Ramírez (Holguín) - Another 24 year old, he is 8-6 with a 3.82 ERA.