By Yusseff Díaz
When Serie Nacional legend René Arocha defected in 1991 he started a revolution.
After René Arocha, Little by little Cuban players eventually started leaving the island in search of a better future in MLB. Arocha’s ex-team, the Serie Nacional’s Havana’s Industriales Blue Lions has placed the highest amount of pitchers on a major league roster with eight. Arocha had a successful first year in the big leagues with St. Louis winning 11 games, but injuries cut his career short briefly after that great start.
Alumni of the team also include Orlando “El Duque” Hernández who during his time on the grand stage won 90 games and fourth World Series rings during his nine-year distinguished career. Although he defected at an advanced age he had a very productive career in the majors that includes a 9-3 playoff record and a 1999 ALCS MVP.
Pinar del Río has also sent its share of pitchers to the big leagues. José Ariel Contreras who also promptly defected at the age of 31 won 78 games during his 11-year career and this includes an all-star appearance and world championship in 2006. Danys Baez who is also from the same province as Contreras saved 114 games and all-star appearance in 2005 during his 10-year stint in the big leagues.
Although the Isle of Youth has only placed four pitchers on major league rosters, three of these pitchers have been very productive, making the team’s contribution to the big leagues the most significant of all.
Liván Hernández won 178 games during his 17-year career this includes two all-star selections and 50 complete games. During the playoffs, the right was money in the bank. Hernández sported a 7-3 record and a World Series MVP trophy in 1997.
During his brief career, his five years in the big league Rasiel Iglesias has saved 98 games, this includes three straight years with 25 or more saves. He has also struck out 448 batters and posted a WHIP of 1.13 during this time. Young fireballer Yoán López has a 3.36 in his first two years with Arizona and projects to be a future closer out in the desert.
Mayabeque has a trio of future stars that made their MLB debuts last year. Ronald Bolaños, Adrian Morejon, and Michel Baez all impressed the San Diego Padres last year. All three were highly touted prospects when the left Cuba and figure to be a staple in the Friar’s pitching corps for the foreseeable future.
Ariel Miranda who won 13 games in his career appears twice on the list due to the fact that he pitched for the now-defunct La Habana Cowboys, a team that became the Mayabeque Hurricanes and the Artemisa Hunters after it was dispersed. The players were later reassigned to each province based on where they lived.
The latest to debut has been Vladimir Gutiérrez who has looked the part in his 6 starts with the Reds. During those starts he has posted a record of 3-2, 3.97 earned run average and struck out 27 in 34 innings.
Below I will leave a list of the Serie Nacional teams that have placed more than three pitchers on a major league roster:
Orlando Hernández (NYY,NYM,CHW,Ari)
Rogelio Armenteros (Hou)
Odrisamer Despaigne (SD,Mia,Bal,LAA,CHW)
Francisley Bueno (KC,Atl)
Gerardo Concepción (CHC)
Adrián Hernández (NYY,Mil)
Rene Arocha (Stl,SF)
Amaury Sanit (NYY)
Pinar del Río:
Yunesky Maya (Washington)
Yoslan Herrera (LAA,Pit)
Danys Baez (Bal,Cle,TB,Atl,Phi)
Jose Contreras (NYY,Col,Phi,Pit,CHW)
Alay Soler (NYM)
Raudel Lazo (Mia)
Vladimir Gutiérrez (Cin)
Isle of Youth:
Livan Hernández (Fla,SF,Mon,Ari ,Min, Col,NYM,Was,Atl,Mil)
Raisel Iglesias (Cin,LAA)
Yoan López (Ari)
Ariel Prieto (Oak,Ari)
Ariel Miranda (Bal,Sea)
Michel Baez (SD)
Adrian Morejon (SD)
Ronald Bolaños (SD,KC)
La Habana (Cowboys):
Vladimir Nuñez (Fla,Ari)
Ariel Miranda (Sea,Bal)
Miguel Alfredo González (Phi)
Raúl Valdés (Hou,Stl,NYM,NYY,Phi)
Roenis Elias (Sea,Bos,Was)
Onelki Garcia (LAD,KC)
Dailer Hinojosa (Bos)