The year in review for Cubans in the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol.

The curtain fell on the regular season of the Mexican Baseball League and with it another historic year for Cubans in the circuit. The season was full of surprises, disappointments, good news, records and debuts. A total of 41 players of Cuban heritage saw action in México this year.

Rusney Castillo, Yuniesky Larduet, José Miguel Fernández, Yadiel Hernández, JC Escarra, Odrisamer Despaigne, Lázaro Blanco, Ariel Miranda, Jesús Balaguer and Pavel Hernández all saw action for the first time in the LMB this season.

One of the most pleasant surprises of the season was the performances of Yuniesky Larduet and Pavel Hernández, both of whom were making their professional baseball debut. Larduet spent most of the season as the leadoff hitter for the Piratas de Campeche, hitting .277 with 81 hits in 79 games. He also slashed .353/.319/. 671 , stole 13 bases and scored 40 runs.

On the other hand, Pavel Hernández was one of the most consistent starters for the Rieleros de Aguascalientes, a basement team in the North Zone. In 14 games, 12 as a starter, he went 2-3 with a 5.31 ERA. In those 12 starts he had three quality starts and 6 starts where he allowed less than three runs and worked at least five innings.

Among the not so pleasant news for Cubans this year are several release of several players, some of them incomprehensible. The first of them was that of José Miguel Fernández who, after just 9 games was slashing .324/.406/.731, 2 home runs, three RBIs and 4 runs scored, was inexplicably let go by the Saraperos de Saltillo.

Two other pitchers suffered the same fate as the slugger from Matanzas, Cuba, but their cases were even more incomprehensible because their numbers were among the best in the league. Carlos Juan Viera was released on the last day of allowable roster movements in the league. At that time, Viera had 5 wins, 3 losses and a 3.81 ERA in 12 outings. While Ariel Miranda who was cut by Saltillo the same day, was the league leader in strikeouts, all while posting a 4-1 record and a 4.79 ERA.

There were players who’s performance was not up to par in Aztec circuit. Raico Santos was one of these such players hitting just .185 in 8 games with the Tigres de Quintana Roo after batting well above .300 and swatting more than 70 hits the previous season with Tabasco. Lázaro Hernández came from a 14 homerun season with the Quintana Roo Tigers last year, but in 2023 he could not hit a single ball out of the yard in 16 games before being released by the felines.

Yoanys Quiala could not establish himself with the Algodoneros de Unión Laguna and in three outings he was tagged with two losses and posted an astronomical earned run average of 19.89. Jesús Balaguer was with two teams this season, Sultanes de Monterrey and Rieleros de Aguascalientes, in was hit mercilessly with both squads. When he was released by the Rieleros, his last team of the year, he was 2-and-2 with a 16.20 ERA in just 6.2 innings pitched.

It was not all bad news in the Mexican League for Cubans this season. Four players achieved all-time goals in the league and set records for their teams. Yoanner Negrín reached 500 strikeouts with the Leones de Yucatan, going down in history as one of the team’s most prolific strike out artists.

Henry Urrutia swatted his 100th homerun in the league and also connected on his 300th hit in the LMB, Yadir Drake hit more than 100 hits for the second consecutive year with the Yucatán, in addition, this year he achieved his personal best in this statistical with 120. Felix Pérez from the Isle of Youth arrived to 300 career home runs with the number 20 of the season. In 2023 he also reached 2,000 hits in his career as a professional baseball player.

Last but not least Cuban-Americans also played a big part for their teams during the season. Peter O’Brien was a key figure for the Pericos de Puebla slashing .316/.389/.601/.990, going downtown 20 times and knocking in 59 runs in 87 games. JC Escarra also was very handy with the wood hitting .296 with seven longballs and 24 RBIs in 42 games with Tijuana and Unión Laguna.

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