Regardless of policies, embargos, political leanings, or the like, an historic game took place in Cuba between the Cuban National team and the Tampa Bay Rays. In an electric atmosphere of Estadio LatinoAmericano, a stadium built in 1946, players took the field amidst the Cuban beat of horns and drums. For those unable to watch the game live (it was on in the middle of a workday afternoon after all), an archive is available for MLB.tv subscribers; I highly suggest watching at least the introductions.
Cuba's lineup included members of the Cuban Series Nacional (CNS) and rolled out the following players. Most of the names on this list are Cuban league veterans who likely will not make it to the majors. For those who haven't watched the game, let this be a guide to who these players are and whether or not they are likely to play in the Majors:
|Jose A. Garcia||RF|
|Frank Camillo Morejon||C|
Roel Santos is a 29-year-old outfielder and an on-base machine. He lacks any sort of power (career slugging .438) but over his career reached base at a .416 clip in large part due to his speed. Baseball America ranked Santos the number 15 player in Cuba last year, though the southpaw is unlikely to make it to the Majors considering his age and skillset.
Yordan Manduley is a typical limited-power, high-average shortstop who has been in the CNS since 2005. He is one of the few players to have played for an international squad. In 2015, the Cuban government allowed him to play for Les Capitales de Quebec, where he posted a .269/.306/.333 slash line. Another veteran of the Cuban game, Manduley will probably finish his career in the Cuban league, though Americans may see him in the next World Baseball Classic.
At the age of 31, Yosvani Alarcon served as Cuba's designated hitter. A power hitting catcher in his younger days, Alarcon posted a career-high 26 home runs over 85 games in 2009 and put up OPS numbers over 1.000 in 2009 and 2010 while also playing all of his games behind the dish. Alarcon could have been a valuable asset in MLB years ago, but it looks as if his full-time catching days are behind him.
William Saavedra is a 33-year-old, six-foot, 220-pound first baseman. He hits for both average and power, posting a career slash line of .293/.346/.465. He had a career year in 2010 for the Pinar del Rio when he smashed 21 home runs, 21 doubles, and put up a .343 batting average over 85 games. While it would be tremendous to see a player get an extra-base hit every other game, he's on the back-end of a strong career in the CNS.
Jose Adolis Garcia started in right field for the Cuban team on Tuesday. His older brother Adonis Garcia plays for the Atlanta Braves. He is only 23 years old, can hit for power and average, and has decent speed. In his breakout year in the 2014-2015 season, he led the CNS in hits and tied for fourth in steals. He served as Cuba's starting center fielder in the Pan American Games last year and is probably one of the most likely players with potential to play in the majors.
Yunior Paumier is a 27-year-old infielder who served as a sub in the CNS at the age of 14. Despite being only 27 years old, he is already a 12-year veteran of the league, having received 3636 plate appearances. In 2015, he played in 57 games, hitting 8 home runs and mustering a .327/.474/.536 slash line. Paumier would certainly serve as an interesting addition to MLB considering his experience at second base and third base.
Frank Morejon is another 30-year-old veteran of the CNS. He joined Metropolitanos at age 18 but has been a mostly pedestrian player for his career. His 2015 batting average of .326 is largely an apparition considering a career .242 batting average.
Despite being approximately 30 years old, Denis Laza made his Serie Nacional debut in the 2008-2009 season. With a reputation as a lousy outfielder (.907 fielding percentage...I know, I know, but this is the best we can do), he managed to lead the league in plate appearances.
Yosvani Torres started the game on the rubber for the Cuban team. He is 35 years old, and his fastball tops out in the 80s; he primarily relies on deception to limit hard contact. Over the course of his decade-plus Cuban career, he has posted a 3.24 earned run average in 220 games (165 of which he started). There's barely a market for a player in the Jered Weaver / Mark Buehrle mold, and he probably will never pitch for a major league club.