14ymedio, Havana, 26 December 2023 — Sixteen-year-old Cuban pitcher Robier Hernández arrived in the Dominican Republic, in the middle of the Christmas Eve celebration, with the aim of being recruited by a team from the American Major Leagues. Days earlier it was known that retired baseball player Danger Guerrero had traveled to the United States with his 9-year-old son, who was part of the Cuban national team in the 9-10 pre-world tournament in Culiacán (Mexico), in search of sports opportunities for both of them.
The departure of both prospects and Guerrero, who has participated in 17 national series – and could, consequently, be an excellent coach – is eloquent about the reality of Cuban baseball: the stampede not only of professional players, but also of the relievers.
Hernández, baseball journalist Francys Romero reported, stood out in Cuba as an opening pitcher, has a good arm and is able to throw a straight at 90 miles per hour. With him, there are 17 players his age who left Cuba this year. Romero says it’s an alarming figure, since it represents 85% of the generational base that would relieve the current players of the different national teams of the Island.
For his part, Guerrero – the father – was part of the Havana and Mayabeque teams. In his statistics are 2,944 turns at bat, 821 hits, a batting average of .279 and 59 home runs. For his son, the stay in the United States will allow him to develop his game and be seen by the headhunters who are responsible for recruiting young players for the Major Leagues from their own schools.
One figure gives the measure of the disaster facing the country: of the young people who represented Cuba in the U-15 World Cup, held in Mexico in 2022, only three players remain on the Island: Yordan Rodríguez, Yaidel Ruíz and Maikol Rodríguez.
Romero lists those who have left: Alejandro Cruz, 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, Cristian Zamora and Mailon Batista.
“Those numbers show the state of despair of young players and their families,” the communicator stressed. “The Cuban State has not been able to provide a future for its citizens. Therefore, the response to this prolonged failure of the system has been the exodus,” he added.
The attempts of the Cuban Baseball Federation to retain young athletes have failed. In September, it organized the first international tryout with talent scouts at the Latin American Stadium in Havana. Representatives of Japan, South Korea, Dominican Republic and Ecuador observed 80 players, but there was little interest in them.
Although it has not acknowledge it, the Federation wants the talent scouts of professional leagues in Latin America – mainly from Mexico – and Asia to recruit their baseball players. In return, they take a percentage of the agreement if it is finalized.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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