That’s Amaury News and Commentary: Cuba in this World Baseball Classic -Kind of a mystery.

AP file photo: Oakland Athletics’ Yonder Alonso who represented Cuba in 2009 warms up before a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. (AP file Photo/Alex Gallardo)

by Amaury Pi Gonzalez

Cuba’s best WBC was in 2006, when they reached the championship game, losing to Japan,10-6. It was Japan again who eliminated Cuba in the next Classic in 2009 in Round 2 of the tournament. Last Classic, 2013, the Cubans reached the second round and lost to the Netherlands. This 2017 World Baseball Classic which begins March 6, Cuba’s team is one of those “mystery “teams.

Cuba does not allows defectors to play in the WBC, It happens to be that Major League Cuban-born players today are defectors; Yoenis Cespedes(Mets)who played for Cuba in 2009 (before defecting)will not be able to play, as well as Jose Abreu,(White Sox), Aroldis Chapman,(Yankees) Rusney Castillo and Roenis Elias (Red Sox), Yonder Alonso (Athletics), Yasiel Puig(Dodgers), Leonys Martin and Guillermo Heredia(Mariners),Adonis Garcia(Braves), Yasmany Torres(Diamondbacks)and there are many more.

These Cuban-born players in the major leagues could probably fill a roster, but they are not allowed. Maybe Cuba should consider to change that in the future. It will show good faith on behalf of their government, who still does not allows any real freedom to its citizens. Eventually something will change, and the odds are that it is Cuba that has to chance first, since the major leagues is the place where the overwhelming majority of baseball players wish to play someday. Some of these Cuban-born players have residence in countries outside Cuba, some even are US citizens, or legal residents of the United States of America, yet they cannot represent the country they were born, because they defected. I am sure that Major League Baseball could work with Cuba’s Baseball Organizations to come to a resolution and allowed these players to represent their country. So far the government of Cuba if saying “no”.

On this 2017 Cuban team, one interesting story will be Yoelkis Cespedes, younger half-brother of Yoenis Cespedes, he is 19 years old and considered a five tool talent. Also Alfredo Despaigne and Frederick Cepeda are known for previous Classics. But those are in the minority, since this Cuban team is almost 100 percent made up of players that are well known in Cuba, and there is not much scouting around to tell us what do they really have. I have not seem the majority of them but reports are that this could be the “next crop “of talented Cuban players, and some of them could be of major league caliber.

Interest in Cuba for anything that has to do with baseball is huge, and they will be following this classic via radio and television in the largest island of the Caribbean. Before this World Baseball Classic and even before the first Caribbean World Series in 1949, which Cuba hosted in Havana and won it with a 6-0 record, Cuba has been the pioneer when it comes to baseball in Latin America.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio voice for the Oakland A’s and does the Angels Spanish TV and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

 

 

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