01 of 06
Welcome to the Show, Caribbean Players!
America’s favorite pastime is in full-swing again, and with it is our seven-part series on baseball players from the Caribbean in each division of the league, as well as well-known past players. Our first part is on the division with inarguably the biggest rivalry in all of baseball, the AL East which features the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, as well as the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Toronto Blue Jays.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
02 of 06
The Caribbean-born pitching staff for the Baltimore Orioles includes Odrisamer Despaigne and Ubaldo Jimenez. Despaigne, from Havana, Cuba, spent his first two seasons in San Diego before being acquired by Baltimore in February, 2016. He posts a career 9-16 W-L record and a 4.74 career ERA. Jimenez, from Nagua, Dominican Republic, begins his 11th season projected as the team’s 4th starting pitcher in their rotation after coming off a 12-10 W-L and 4.11 ERA 2015 season.
Behind the plate is Santiago, Dominican Republic-born catcher, Francisco Pena. Third on the depth chart, Pena will most likely spend his time with the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, Norfolk Tides, and be the first guy called up to the majors if a spot opens up. A career .143 hitter, Pena has spent most of his time in the minor leagues.
Covering 2nd base for the Orioles is a native of Willemstad, Curacao, Jonathan Schoop. 24 year old Schoop posted a .279 batting average in 2015, along with 15 home runs, 39 RBIs and two stolen bases.
Dariel Alvarez of Camaguey, Cuba, sits second on the Orioles’ right field depth chart. Spending most of his time in 2015 with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides and Single-A (Advanced) Frederick Keys, Alvarez made his MLB debut in August. Alvarez, a minor league .295 career hitter, will likely start his season in Triple-A Norfolk and await a call up to the majors.
Competing for playing time at the designated hitter spot are Caribbean-born players, Pedro Alvarez of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Jimmy Paredas of Haina, Dominican Republic. Expected to get the starting spot is Alvarez, a 2013 All-Star, Silver Slugger Award-winner, and Home Run Derby Participant who spent his first six years in the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates before signing with Baltimore this off-season. Paredas is a .257 career hitter, but has experienced hand injuries that’ll most likely keep him from competing for the top DH spot for a while.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
03 of 06
Boston Red Sox
Currently 8th on the depth chart for starting pitching is Guantanamo, Cuba native, Roenis Elias. Elias has been in the Seattle system since the beginning of his career in 2013 going 10-12 in 2014 in 29 games and 5-8 in 2015 in 22 games. Elias will be knocking on the door of the Red Sox’s starting rotation this year, most likely being either the 6th man in Boston or the 1st man in Triple-A Pawtucket.
Catcher and Bayamon, Puerto Rico native, Christian Vazquez hasn’t played since 2014 because of needing the dreaded Tommy John surgery, but he’s back for 2016 and ready to play. Vazquez played in Boston for 55 games in 2014, hitting .240 in 175 at-bats. Vazquez will most likely spend a majority of his season in Triple-A Pawtucket barring injury or trades of Blake Swihart and Ryan Hanigan.
A native of Oranjestad, Aruba, shortstop Xander Bogaerts is coming off of a stellar 2015 season in Boston. Bogaerts was 2nd best in the American League in batting (.320) and hits (196) and is looking to continue the trend this year. Only in his fourth year in the majors, Bogaerts already has a World Series and an AL Silver Slugger under his belt.
At second base, Marco Hernandez, a native of Santiago, Dominican Republic, will be the go-to if anything happens to Red Sox starter, Dustin Pedroia. Hernandez shared time last year between Triple-A Pawtucket and Double-A Portland, batting .271 and .326 in each respectively.
First baseman, Hanley Ramirez is from Samana, Dominican Republic. Coming into his 12th year in the league, Ramirez boasts awards including NL Rookie of the Year in 2006 , an NL All-Star selection in 2008, 2009, and 2010, an NL Silver Slugger in 2008 and 2009, and a Home Run Derby participant in 2010 – all with the Florida Marlins.
Expected to start in left field this year for Boston is Ciego de Avila, Cuba, native Rusney Castillo. Castillo has batted .262 in his two-year career with the Red Sox.
After an impressive 20 seasons in the majors, 2016 will be the last for David “Big Papi” Ortiz. A native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Ortiz has dominated the DH position since he debuted in 1997 for the Minnesota Twins. Among the list of awards he has won are 2013 World Series MVP, 3-time World Series Champion, 2004 ALCS MVP, 9-time AL All-Star, 6-time AL Silver Slugger, and the 2010 Home Run Derby Champion.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
04 of 06
New York Yankees
A recent addition to the New York Yankees pitching squad is projected closer and 4-time NL All-Star with Cincinnati, Aroldis Chapman. Chapman, hailing from Holguin, Cuba, will however, spend begin the 2016 on the suspension list for 30 games after being penalized under MLB’s domestic violence policy. Upon returning, Chapman will look to continue his 33+ saves a season he’s maintained since 2012.
Another Caribbean-born Yankees pitcher is Ivan Nova, a 29-year old native of Palenque, Dominican Republic. Nova will compete for a spot in the starting rotation this year, although he is most likely to be used out of the bullpen.
Expected to pitch second in the starting rotation this year for the Yankees is Michael Pineda of Yaguate, Dominican Republic. Pineda was able to nab an All-Star spot in 2011 for Seattle and led the Yankees in 2015 in team strikeouts (156). A strikeout-machine, Pineda who has had troubles with his arm in the past, will need to stay healthy this year in order to help the Yankees get back into the playoffs.
Rounding out the Caribbean-born pitchers on the Yankees roster is Luis Serverino, a native of Sabana de la Mar, Dominican Republic. In his first year in the majors in 2015, Severino posted a 2.89 ERA along with a 5-3 win-loss record in 11 games. He’s expected to be 4th in the starting pitching rotation when the season begins in April.
The current projected backup catcher for the Yankees, Gary Sanchez, is a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Sanchez spent all but two games of his 2015 season between the Yankees’ Triple-A team, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and their Double-A team, Trenton, before making his major-league debut for the Yankees on October 3rd.
Starlin Castro, a Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic native, will be the Yankees second baseman when the season begins in April. A 3-time NL All-Star with the Chicago Cubs, Castro was traded to the Yankees this offseason and is looking to recreate the same numbers he had in Chicago.
A 19-year veteran, Carlos Beltran, a native of Manati, Puerto Rico, is expected to start in right field for the Yankees in 2016. AL Rookie of the Year in 1999 with Kansas City, Beltran is also an 8-time All-Star, 2-time Silver Slugger award winner, 3-time Gold Glove winner, and a Home Run Derby participant.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Tampa Bay Rays
Look to the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen and you’ll find left-handed thrower, Xavier Cedeno, a native of Guayanilla, Puerto Rico. Cedeno, a 2004 Colorado Rockies draft pick, is coming off a year where he threw a 2.35 ERA in 66 games for Tampa Bay. After being traded around the league last year, Cedeno will be looking to stay put in Tampa and help out in a big way.
Another Rays pitcher, Alex Colome, hails from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Making his debut in 2013, Colome came onto the scene in 2015 for the Rays as a starter and a reliever, but found more success as the former with an ERA almost cut in half and a doubled strikeout percentage.
Enny Romero, another Santo Domingo-born Rays pitcher will also be in the bullpen for the Rays this year. Romero spent time between the Rays and their Triple-A affiliate, Durham Bulls, last season. Romero has spent the offseason preparing himself for 2016 by training at the Rays’ Dominican Republic academy and playing winter ball.
Catching for these pitchers will be Rene Rivera, a native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, who was drafted in 2001 by the Seattle Mariners, but had his breakout season in 2014 with the San Diego Padres. Rivera fell behind on his batting in 2015 but after training in the offseason, he is looking to rebound this year.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
06 of 06
Toronto Blue Jays
Having yet to make his MLB debut is 25 year old, A.J. Jimenez, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Jimenez spent his 2015 season between the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate, Buffalo, and their Double-A affiliate, New Hampshire, but he is expected to spend his time between the major leagues and Triple-A this year.
Entering his 12th year in the league is La Romana, Dominican Republic-born Edwin Encarnacion. A 9th round draft pick for the Texas Rangers, Encarnacion has been a consistent player since his debut in 2005 earning 2 All-Star spots and multiple Player of the Week awards. He is expected to be the Blue Jays’ go-to guy for designated hitting, as well as a backup at first base.
Jose Bautista, Toronto’s bat-flipping rightfielder, is a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Bautista has averaged a .257 batting average over the course of his 12 year career, earning All-Star nods 6 times, winning the Silver Slugger award 3 times, and the Hank Aaron award twice.