With IBAF World Cup 38 looming on the horizon in less than two months time, the Cuban Baseball Federation yesterday announced a list of 58 players who will compete to fill 24 coveted roster spots for the opening of the September games in Barcelona. These 58 hopefuls comprise two all-star rosters that will compete in a trial exhibition series staged throughout the island from late-July until late-August. Representing (more or less) the two Cuban League regional divisions, these all-star clubs will be directed by Esteban Lombillo (manager of the recent Occidentales champions, Habana Province) and Eduardo Martin (skipper of the Orientales National Series finalists, Villa Clara). The complete announced rosters are as follows:
OCCIDENTALES (WEST) TEAM
Manager: Esteban Lombillo (Habana Province)
Coaches: Rafael Muñoz and Omar Linares
Trainer: Javier Gálvez
Catchers: Eriel Sánchez (Sancti Spíritus), Yosvani Peraza (Pinar del Río), Yaimel Alberro (Matanzas)
Infielders: José Dariel Abreu (Cienfuegos), Yoandri Garlobo (Matanzas), Rafael Valdés (Pinar del Río), Ernesto Molinet (Habana Province), Michel Enríquez (Isla de la Juventud), Yariel Duque (Matanzas), Roberto Carlos Ramírez (Metros), Rudy Reyes (Industriales), Donald Duarte (Pinar del Río)
Outfielders: Frederich Cepeda (Sancti Spíritus), Leonys Martin (Villa Clara), Jorge Padrón (Pinar del Río), Juan Carlos Linares (Habana Province), Ariel Sánchez (Matanzas), Irait Chirino (Metros)
Pitchers: Pedro Luis Lazo (Pinar del Río), Yadier Pedroso (Habana Province), Yulieski González (Habana Province), Miguel Alfredo González (Habana Province), Ismel Jiménez (Sancti Spíritus), Miguel Lahera (Habana Province), Jonder Martínez (Habana Province), Vladimir Baños (Pinar del Río), Noelvis Entenza (Cienfuegos), Norberto González (Cienfuegos), Arleys Sánchez (Industriales)
Of the 29-man West League roster, nine members appeared on Cuba’s March World Baseball Classic ball club (position players Peraza, Enríquez, Cepeda, and Martin; pitchers Lazo, Yulieski González, Jiménez, Lahera, and Norberto González).
ORIENTALES (EAST) TEAM
Manager: Eduardo Martin (Villa Clara)
Coaches: Luis Jova and Orestes Kindelán
Trainer: Omar Carrero
Catchers: Ariel Pestano (Villa Clara), Rolando Meriño (Santiago de Cuba), Yulexis la Rosa (Villa Clara)
Infielders: Ariel Borrero (Villa Clara), Yorelvis Charles (Ciego de Avila), Héctor Olivera (Santiago de Cuba), Yoilán Cerce (Guantánamo), Yulieski Gourriel (Sancti Spíritus), Adonis García (Ciego de Avila), Luis Miguel Navas (Santiago de Cuba), Yorbis Borroto (Ciego de Avila), Alexander Guerrero (Las Tunas)
Outfielders: Alfredo Despaigne (Granma), Yoennis Céspedes (Granma), Giorvis Duvergel (Guantánamo), Yoelvis Fiss (Ciego de Avila), Leslie Anderson (Camagüey), Yeral Sánchez (Holguín).
Pitchers: Norge Luis Vera (Santiago de Cuba), Freddy Asiel Alvarez (Villa Clara), Maikel Folch (Ciego de Avila), Yaumier Sánchez (Santiago de Cuba), Vladimir García (Ciego de Avila), Valeri García (Ciego de Avila), Alfredo Unzúe (Ciego de Avila), Alberto Bicet (Santiago de Cuba), Alien Mora (Ciego de Avila), Misael Silverio (Villa Clara), Dany Betancourt (Santiago de Cuba).
Of the 29-man East League roster, eleven members also appeared on Cuba’s 2009 WBC squad (position players Pestano, Meriño, Olivera, Gourriel, Navas, Despaigne, Céspedes and Anderson; pitchers Vera, Vladimir García, and Dany Betancourt). Yulieski Gourriel has been assigned to the West squad to balance the rosters, though his Sancti Spíritus club plays in the Occidentales league.
Several surprises are immediately apparent in these roster announcements. First and foremost are the absences of Pinar del Río ace right-hander Yunieski Maya (13-game winner and “best right-hander” selection on this year’s post-season all-star team), Santiago outfielder Alexei Bell (slugging star of last summer’s Beijing Olympics), and Las Tunas first baseman Joan Carlos Pedroso (member of both Cuban WBC teams). Pedroso has been bumped aside by emerging youngsters José Dariel Abreu and Yorelvis Charles; his slim chances for selection were also hurt rather dramatically by the recent stellar World Port Tournament performance of Villa Clara veteran Ariel Borrero. Bell–who underperformed throughout the entireNational Series #48 campaign after suffering an eye injury in the season’s opener–is apparently still not healthy enough for resurrection in the national team picture. But the most shocking absence, of course, is that of Maya, who has now been reported by the Cuban press as being suspended by league officials for “serious disciplinary infractions” (no details given). Such language usually refers to a player’s illegal attempts to leave the country, but in this case there has been no confirmation of the exact nature of Maya’s disciplinary problems.
For more details and analysis on the Cuban World Cup roster, see might complete version of this story at www.baseballdecuba.com.