2015: record migration in Cuban baseball

In the year just finished, the history of the migration of Cuban baseball players reached a new record: 150 baseball players abandoned the country (both legally and illegally) with the same gaol: become professional players.

This phenomenon continues to persist in the midst of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.

It is no secret that the embargo imposed on Cuba has motivated the baseball players’ emigration since the 1960s. However, this unconfirmed register (that passed 80 in 2014) reaffirms the severity of the crisis in which national baseball finds itself.

According to Heriberto Suárez, National Commissioner of Baseball “this is a vulnerable stage, mainly in the sense of the exodus we’ve seen over the last five, six years.” The advances in the negotiations between the MLB and Cuba are an example of the mutual interest in stopping the exodus.

“It’s a way for MLB to get a definite, and legal, participation from Cubans in the MLB. We hope to negotiate with them and that requires cooperation from the United States and the Cuban governments, but we hope to do it,” said executive Vice-president of the MLB, Dan Halem on December 15th in Havana.

Days later, the MLB asked the OFAC for special permission to contract Cuban baseball players. The embargo prevents cash-generating agreements, but even so baseball is an area in which OFAC has the priority to permit an agreement.

The challenge is big and requires negotiations, but if the agreement comes to fruition, 2016 could be the last year that baseball players emigrate. Lack of confidence is a uniting factor among those who leave: “The negotiations could last a long time, who knows how long we will have to wait,” a young baseball player who did not want to reveal his identity told OnCuba.

Between the 150 baseball players who left Cuba in 2015, the majority is comprised of a promising generation of talented players aged between 15 and 25. The average age within this exodus is 22.89.

Promising baseball players of ages between 16 and 18, cases like Adrian Morejón, Lazaro Armenteros, Miguel Vargas (the son of Lázaro Vargas), Omar Estevez and Yusniel Díaz, have also left. Only six players that are over 30 feature among the emigrants.

“The 30 MBL teams are interested in me. I left Cuba because I always believed in my talent – I’m out of this world,” outfielder Lázaro Armenteros told OnCuba.

The province that lost the most players in the most recent wave of emigration was Havana with 31. It is followed by Pinar del Río (18), Santiago de Cuba (15), Matanzas and Mayabeque (13), Artemisa (12) and Villa Clara and Las Tunas (10).

It is unlikely that all of the baseball players on the list will sign a contract in the future. According to analysts, it is estimated that franchises only sign one. Other estimations raise the average to 15:1. The competition is strong as the market of Cuban talent competes with others of the same quality like the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

“I’ve been in the Dominican Republic for almost two years now, and to tell the truth, I don’t know what baseball players who don’t get contracts do to earn a living. I’ve not had the opportunity to talk to anyone in that situation. Working here is difficult. Those of us who make it to the United States have a much better chance of playing there or in any other country, but here we’re stuck,” Lerys Aguillera, Holguín first base told OnCuba.

“The dream of every Cuban baseball player is to play in the Major Leagues, but the reality is that they’re not giving opportunities to the young players,” said Jeans Rodríguez, who was the leader in hume runs in he last National Under 23 Series.

“This is for my future and the future of my family. You get disappointed by Cuban baseball. I was batting 355, leading in home-runs and second on RBIs and they didn’t even put me in the reserves for the Premier 12, which was the least they could have done to reward me,” said Havana-born Yasser Julio González, who before leaving played for Pinar del Rio.

Yasser Julio Gonzalez. Photo: Facebook

Who makes up the “150”

This list of baseball players would not have been possible without the invaluable help from my colleauges Yordano Carmona, Daniel de Malas, Ibrahim Rojas and Yussef Díaz, who supported me. Each one of them confirmed that all these players have left Cuba.

1-Vladimir Gutiérrez (20) P

2-Lazaro Alonso (21) INF/OF

3-Yoel Rojas (22) C

4-Osniel Madera (30) OF/INF

5-Randy Arozarena (20) INF/OF

6-Yosviel Vilaú (22) P

7-Maikel Serrano (22) OF

8-Julio Alfredo Martínez (24) P

9-Lorenzo Quintana (26) C

10-Luis Alberto Valdés (26) INF

11-Barbaro Urquiola (25) INF

12-Jorge Oña (19) OF

13-Raidel Orta (19) P

14-Josuan Hernández (21) C

15-Jesus Balaguer (22) P

16-Alfredo Rodriguez (21) INF

17-Yusnier Diaz (19) OF

18-Ronald Bolaños (18) P

19-Yanio L Perez (20) OF/INF

20-Lázaro Hernández (22) INF

21-Alay Rafael Lago (25) INF

22-Jose Norbelis Betancourt (28) P

23-Navid Luis Cosme (21) P

24-Mario Luis Cosme (29) INF

25-Pavel Pino (24) P

26-Diosbel Arias (19) INF

27-Dayan González (21) OF

28-Misael Villa (22) P

29-Antonio Baró (23) P

30-Yadiel Hernández (28) OF

31-Omar Estevez (17) INF

32-Dainer Moreira (30) INF

33-Cionel Perez (19) P

34-Moises Esquerre (20) INF

35-Yordanis Linares (25) OF

36-Ramon Lunar (27) OF

37-Yuniel Flores (27) OF

38-Norge Luis Ruiz (21) P

39-Yordan Álvarez (18) INF/OF

40-Eddy Julio Martínez (20) OF

41-Carlos Viera (27) P

42-Yaisel Sierra (24) P

43-Maikel Cáceres (32) INF/OF

44-Alberto Diaz (24) C

45-Joaquin Carbonell (26) OF

46-Luis Y. La O (24) INF

47-Adriel Labrada (24) INF

48-Henry Pantoja (17) OF

49-Alain Tamayo (24) P

50-Yosibel Castillo (22) P

51-Maikel Taylor (24) P

52-Rogelio Quesada (22)

53-Raidel Chacón (21) P

54-Elian Leyva (26) P

55-Yoandri Portal (28) P

56-Henry Quintero (21) INF

57-Fidel Romero (26) P

58-Dary Bartolomé (31) INF

59-Damian Leyva  (21) P

60-Alexander Gambe (21) Habana – OF

61-Yanciel Ajete (23) INF

62-Rafael Viñales (23) C

63-Yordan Batista (32) INF

64-Yosley Veitía (18) INF

65-Johan Oviedo (17) P

66-Raiko Olivares (29) INF

67-Lisban Correa (26) C

68-Julio Montesinos (25) P

69-Rafael Reyes (23) OF

70-Orlando Martínez (18) INF

71-Yunior Valiente (23) OF

72-Florencio Maleta (25) P

73-Rudeldis García (30) C

74-Daniel Aguilera (27) INF

75-Jorge Luis Bravo (26) P

76-Raicel Poll (27) P

77-Javier Norberto Castellanos (23) OF

78-Oscar Valdés (23) C

79-Noel Ortiz (22) P

80-Julio Cesar González (21) INF

81-Felix Fuentes (28) P

82-Pedro Durán (21) P

83-Ronny Valdés (21) P

84-Eduardo Ferrer (21) P

85-José Daudinot (20) OF

86-Irvin del Río (24) P

87-Yuniel Cabrera (27) INF

88-Osmeni Romero (23) P

89-Luis Estrada (19) P

90-Dariel Crespo (23) C

91-Robersy Ramos (26) OF

92-Miguel Angel Lastra (22) P

93-Franklin Quintana (20) P

94-Randy Terry (24) INF

95-Yandy García (21) P

96-Michel Báez (19) P

97-Yosuan Gil (19) C

98-Adrián Morejón (16) P

99-Sergio Luzardo (22) P

Urmaris Guerra. Photo: Universo Beisbol

100-Urmaris Guerra (28) OF

101-Omar Hojas (21) OF

102-Yoel Yanqui (19) INF

103-Luis Guzmán (25) P

104-Andy Pacheco (20) INF

105-Lester Madden (16) INF

106-Rodry Yasmani Castelló (21) P

107-Onel Vega (24) C

108-Miguel Vargas (16) INF

108ª-Lázaro Vargas

109-Carlos Nubiola (19) P

110-Brayan Álvarez (21) P

111-Jeans Rodríguez (21) INF

112-Yadier Echevarría (20) P

113-Denis Peña (19) INF

114-Yasser Julio González (23) OF

115-Michel Martínez Pozo (29) P

116-Delvis Borges (25) P

117-Yusmel Velázquez Aguilar (24) P

118-Rangel Rodríguez (27) INF

119-Lester Jova (26) INF

120-Anibal Sierra (21) INF

121-Adrian Moreno (26) INF

122-Darién Pérez (18) P

123-Dani Monterrey (21) P

124-Andrés Hernández (19) OF/INF

125-Humberto Morales (24) INF

126-Luis Abel Castro (29) C

127-Darién Nuñez (22) P

128-Elier Sánchez (29) P

129-Oriel Martínez (23) P

130-Lázaro Armenteros (16) OF

131-Carlos Sierra (20) P

132-Yusniel Aguilar (18) OF

133-Yusniel Padrón (18) P

134-Jorge Castro (18) P

135-Luis Angel Ramos (18) P

136-Jonathan Machado (17) INF

137-Yunier Castillo (24) P

138-Javier Pedroso (23) P

139-Jander Santamaría (24) INF

140-Enrique Bicet (27) INF

141-Ruden Sánchez (30) OF

142-Yaciel Jiménez (27) OF

143-Luis Miguel Nava (33) INF

144-Guillermo Heredia (24) OF

145-Orlando Barroso (24) P

146-Yunieski García (22) P

147-Leonis Figueredo (22) OF

148-Sergio Rodriguez Chaviano (22) P

149-Lázaro Águila (23) P

150-Alejandro Rivero (18) OF




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