Slugging Sancti Spiritus infielder Yulieski Gourriel was picked by BASEBALL AMERICA as the top non-major-league-signed prospect playing in the inaugurual 2006 World Baseball Classic.
Odelin, a hard-throwing righty with a difficult first name (even in Cuba) made his mark in the Sydney Olympics and closed out the crucial victory of Puerto Rico that put Cuba into the WBC semifinals.
Maels smashed all Cuban League strikeouts records and was the first Cuban Leaguer clocked at 100 mph before a back injury in 2002 and subsequent defection in 2003 ended his career on the island.
Veteran national team third sacker Michel Enriquez ended Urrutia’s string of five-straight batting titles when he hit .447 in National Series XLV. The Isla de la Juventud standout trails only Urrutia and Linares in the career BA department.
Frank Montieth (Mon-tea-yea) is one of the island’s most promising young hurlers and earned MVP honors with a brilliant string of outings in the August 2006 Havana-based PreOlympic Tournament.
Fleet-footed Industriales flychaser Yasser Gomez is consistently one of the league’s top batsman and arguably its best defensive outfielder. Gomez made perhaps the greatest circus catch this author has ever seen at the Sydney Olympics versus Team USA.
Ace of the Pinar del Rio staff and former teammate of Jose Contreras, Pedro Lazo is closing in on the all-time Cuban League record (of 234) for career victories. Lazo is a closer on the national team and saved Cuba’s biggest win ever vs. the Dominicans in the WBC semifinals.
Long considered by this author as the top pitching prospect in Cuba, Circo Silvino Licea enjoyed a career outing for Granma in 2006-2007, winning the league ERA title (1.15) and missing by 1/3 of an inning the league leadership in frames hurled (with 132.2).
Retired in 2003, German Mesa is consensus choice on the island as Cuba’s greatest shortstop ever and widely compared with Ozzie Smith as a gloveman by those outside Cuba who saw him perform.
A huge slugging first baseman built in the mold of Agustin Marquetti and Antonio Munoz, Alexander Mayeta has emerged as the heart of the national team batting order.