Cuba’s top ballplayers strolled onto the field at Beto Avila Stadium in Veracruz this past week attired in classy new uniforms and also brimming with apparent confidence on the eve of a Central American Games tournament they have virtually dominated across the past nine decades (15 championships in 18 appearances). But the current squad led by frenetic skipper Victor Mesa was for all its historical trappings still more of a mystery and a puzzle than the apparent juggernaut outfit of the not-too-distant past.
An expected victory over Guatemala, in seven innings and by the mercy rule with 10-0 score, sent Team Cuba to the semifinals of the XXII Central American and Caribbean Games, in the city of Veracruz, Mexico.
Five pitchers contributed to the shutout- the second by Cuba in the tournament. Right-hander Yosvany Torres (1-0) completed the first 5 innings with 2 hits, a walk and five strikeouts for his first win in an international event with the island’s national team.
A pitching gem by right-hander Norge Luis Ruíz (1-0) during 8 innings and a final scone from Héctor Mendoza, allowed Cuba to open with a 4-0 win over Puerto Rico in Veracruz on Saturday at the start of the baseball tournament the Central American and Caribbean Games.
As expected, José Dariel Abreu, the Chicago White Sox first baseman from Cienfuegos, Cuba, received a unanimous vote Monday on 30 ballots of the Baseball Writers Association of America for the Rookie of the Year of the American League.
Behind Abreu in the vote were Los Angeles Angels starter Matt Shoemaker and New York Yankees reliever, Dellin Betances.
The convicted ringleader of a smuggling organization that brought more than 1,000 Cubans into the U.S., some of them baseball players including Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin, was sentenced Monday to more than 14 years in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard rejected a request for leniency by Eliezer Lazo, whom she noted was paid $22,000 a month through the scheme — not counting the percentages of any professional baseball contracts the players signed. Prosecutors say Martin paid the Lazo group $1.2 million after signing with the Rangers in 2011.
The Cuban Baseball Federation announced on Wednesday its team of 24 players for the upcoming Central American and Caribbean Games to be held from Nov. 14-30 in Veracruz, Mexico.
There were some notorious absences from the squad of several players with good stats in the current Cuban baseball season. These include Pinar del Rio shortstop Luis A. Valdes, Guantanamo outfielder Giorvis Duvergel, and pitchers Carlos Juan Viera (Las Tunas) and Jose Angel Garcia (Artemisa).
Roberto Sullivan Baldoquin, a 20-year-old infielder who played for Cuba’s Las Tunas team for three seasons, has been rewarded for his efforts after leaving the country of his birth, signing an 8-million-dollar contract with the Los Angeles Angels this Tuesday.
According to statements made by the player from the Dominican Republic, he must still undergo a routine physical examination to finalize the contract.