Leonys Martin, former Villa Clara lead-off hitter and one-time Cuban national team reserve outfielder, enjoyed a successful debut on September 2 at Boston’s historic Fenway Park. As a late-inning replacement Martin slammed a single to right field off veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in his first big league plate appearance and later also made a spectacular running catch at the warning track in deep center field. Leaving Cuba early last fall after five National Series seasons, the 23-year-old Martin was signed as a free agent by the Texas Rangers earlier this spring (in May for a reported $15.5 million) and quickly advanced through the Rangers minor league system (A-level Arizona Rookie League, AA Texas League Frisco, AAA PCL Round Rock) before his September roster-expansion call-up. The September debut made Martin the 166th Cuban-born ballplayer to appear in the majors, the 79th since the ending of professional baseball in Cuba and the establishment of the revamped Cuban League National Series that has flourished on the island for the past half-century.
For the answer to that trivia question, as well as for the full inventory of 166 Cuban big leaguers, see my recent story at the following www.BaseballdeCuba.com link: http://www.baseballdecuba.com/newsContainer.asp?id=2558