( from top to bottom: Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Céspedes José Fernandez, José Iglesias and Jose Abreu)
As far as baseball is concerned, Cuba is definitely a hotbed. Of course, if you follow baseball then you already know this but the type of players that have recently entered the MLB or plan on entering are taking the baseball world by storm. There are four Cuban newcomers in the MLB that have really made the most of their opportunities since defecting from Cuba and their is still another highly-praised prospect( Jose Abreu) that has not even set foot on U.S. soil and he is already a hot topic in baseball. The exciting part about all of these players is that they are all extremely young. These guys have the ability to become superstars in the league for a long time.
First, let’s talk about 22-year-old Yasiel Puig. Puig is monstrous right fielder at 6’3″ and 245 pounds! He came from his hometown of Palmira, Cuba and signed a $42 million minor-league contract. The LA Dodgers called him up to the MLB in June and he has made history ever since. This phenom is just a bundle of fun to watch. Crashing into walls to make tough catches in the outfield, aggressive baserunning and tons of hitting power are the reasons that Puig could be well on his way to winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award. The numbers he has put up are phenomenal to say the least. 11 HR, 27 RBI, a .430 OBP and an astounding .368 BA are the stats that Puig has accumulated during this season. As his play has revealed, Puig possesses a cannon for a defensive arm in the outfield and he gives 110% every time that he takes the field.
The next stud on the list is Yoenis Céspedes. Céspedes’ nickname is “La Potencia”, which means “the power” in Spanish. Let me tell you that the nickname fits this left fielder well because he just exudes power when stepping up at the plate! Céspedes’ hails all the way from Campechuela, Cuba. In just his second year in the bigs and at age 27, he is already becoming a star right before our eyes. He is often forgotten about because he plays for the Oakland Athletics, who despite a great 67-52 record, doesn’t receive as much publicity as other juggernaut teams. Nonetheless, Céspedes’ keeps on chugging along. His season hitting numbers are 19 HR and 56 RBI. The .295 OBP and the .231 will certainly rise as he becomes a more experienced player. Céspedes’ proved his ability earlier this year by winning the 2013 Home Run Derby during the All-Star break. He outslugged some of the game’s best hitters on his way to taking home the crown. He was snubbed as an All-Star this year but expect him to make plenty of All-Star teams in the future if he keeps swinging the way that he is right now.
Alright, try your best to stick with me here. There is going to be a ton of guys named Jose being mentioned, so pay close attention! Jose #1 is starting pitcher José Fernandez of Santa Clara, Cuba. Fernandez is a bright spot for the struggling Miami Marlins(46-73). This kid is a 21-year-old rookie but hasn’t looked like it one bit. His big 6-2, 240 pound frame must intimidate hitters or something because man oh man is he smoking guys left and right! His 149 strikeouts is good for 10th among all pitchers in the NL and has the fourth-best ERA at 2.45. His 8-5 record is not bad either. considering the Marlins barely put up runs. Fernandez is the real deal and has the chance to be really special.
The second Jose on the list is José Iglesias. Iglesias is a heck of a shortstop and third baseman, who is most known for his superb infield defense. He came all the way from Havana, Cuba and began playing with the Boston Red Sox in 2011. However, he didn’t get much playing time until this year. Iglesias seemed to be well on his way to establishing himself as the future of the Red Sox organization. To the surprise of many people, Iglesias was traded to the Detroit Tigers just before the trade deadline in July and the Tigers are happy with their new addition. Iglesias’ numbers(2 HR, 22 RBI) don’t jump out at you but he does the dirty work and is solid. His .316 BA and .361 OBP are pretty good and he has a sure defensive glove. Iglesias is only 23 and has plenty of time ahead of him. Many analysts believe that he has the tools to become a star. Only time will tell if he can reach that level but he has certainly been impressive so far.
Last but in no way shape or form the least, is Jose Abreu. Abreu is 6’2 and a whopping 250 pounds! He has not played in the MLB yet but has torn up a bunch of pitchers in Cuba since 2007. Abreu is a heck of a prospect and is generating tons of buzz from MLB teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox. Since defecting from Cuba in early August, the 26-year-old from Cruces, Cuba is reportedly staying in Haiti while he waits for his opportunity to come to the United States. In the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Abreu was 9-25 with 3 HR, 6 runs and 9 RBI in six games. He possesses so much power and can spray the ball to all parts of the field. Is he another future Cuban superstar? Abreu can clear the bases with one swing. That’s for sure!
These young and talented players are representing Cuba with pride. Each player brings something unique to the field. Yasiel Puig’s unpredictability is mesmerizing. Yoenis Céspedes has jaw-dropping power. José Fernandez masterfully paints the corners and baffles hitters. José Iglesias is a defensive maestro and Jose Abreu can just flat out smack the ball. As you can see, it doesn’t matter how young or what part of Cuba they come from because these players are looking to bring some excitement to the MLB for years to come.