In One Year, 15 of the Team’s 20 Players Left Cuba for the Under-15 World Cup

Alejandro Cruz has been in the Dominican Republic since Sunday. (Facebook/Moisés M Vázquez)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 September 5, 2023 — Cuban baseball player Alejandro Cruz refused to be part of the list of more than 40 athletes that the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) formed to present to the headhunters at an event to be held in Havana between September 11 and 13. Instead, the 16-year-old preferred to board a flight to the Dominican Republic, where he has been looking for an opportunity with one of the U.S. Major League teams since last Sunday.

Cruz was part of the Sancti Spíritus team in the last Under-18 National Championship. In the competition he recorded six doubles, two triples and achieved 10 stolen bases. The strength of his arm, his speed and the batting of the player from Sancti Spíritus are his weapons to be eligible in the next period of international signing.

The FCB’s strategy has failed in its attempt to stop the flight of young players. Since 2012, there has been “a systematic exit” of athletes who have been members of the U-15 and U-18 teams, says journalist Francys Romero. However, with the abandonment of Cruz, the list of baseball players who won the silver medal last year in Taipei (China) and who have left the Island has now reached 15, “which represents a record,” the journalist said.

Although it has not recognized it, the FCB looks for the talent scouts of professional leagues in America, mainly Mexico, and Asia to recruit their players. In return, it takes a percentage of the agreement if it is finalized.

Since 2012 there has been “a systematic exit” of athletes who have integrated the U-15 and U-18 teams, says journalist Francys Romero

Ricardo Eizméndiz, a member of the National Commission, told the official media Jit in August that among those interested in hiring Cuban athletes are several teams from South Korea, without specifying which ones, in addition to the Japanese team Falcons from Softbank. “We expect new confirmations in the next few days,” he said.

The publication Play-Off Magazine said that the most important baseball circuit is in the United States, but unfortunately, in the new strategy of the FCB, it continues “to veto the players of the Island who are under the protection of the Federation.”

In addition to Alejandro Cruz, the list of dropouts includes Alex Santiago, Pedro Danguillecourt, Jaider Suárez, Dulieski Ferrán, Ernest Machado, Yosniel Menéndez, Roberto Peña, Segian Pérez, Alejandro Prieto, Danel Reyes, Ronald Terrero, Jonathan Valle, Yunior Villavicencio and Cristian Zamora.

Young players are not attracted to staying on the Island, where in recent years there has been a shortage of uniforms, balls and bats. The food for the athletes has been reduced, and the salaries they receive are depressing. The current payment scale dating from 2020 for players in Cuba depends on their category. A member of the national pre-selection who participates in the National Series receives 3,725 Cuban pesos per month (19 dollars); one from the Reserve of the National Pre-Selection and National Series receives 2,400 (12 dollars).

The athletes prefer to migrate, many to the Dominican Republic, in search of better training and contracts. Juan Álvarez signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks with a bonus of $100,000. John Valle signed with the New York Mets and received a $150,000 bonus. Christian Saéz has a pre-agreement with the Cardinals of San Luis that guarantees him $150,000. These are just some of the young Cubans who achieved their dream this year.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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