Former Florida Marlins first baseman Orestes Destrade was born in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba in 1962 and immigrated to the United States at age 5 in 1968.
During his youth, he played in the Khoury League, a juvenile league in the City of Miami and graduated from Coral Park High, a school that also produced Jose Canseco.
He later attended Florida College and was drafted by the California Angels in the 23 round of the draft in 1980.
Debuting in the Majors
Destrade toiled around in the minors with Yankees for seven years until he made his debut with the Bronx Bombers in 1987.
In nine games with the Yankees, he hit .263 with five runs batted in. After the season he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Hipolito Peña.
In 1988 he hit his first home run in the big leagues, but the most significant thing that happened to the slugger that season was that he was the first strikeout victim of Randy Johnson‘s career.
After the season he opted for free agency and signed with the Seibu Lions of the Nippon Professional Baseball League.
A Japanese Legend
Destrade led the Japanese League in home runs three straight seasons (90-92) and also led the land of the rising sun in runs batted in two straight years (90-91).
The powerful first baseman is second all-time in longballs for a Cuban in Japan with 160 and is considered one of the circuit’s most prolific Latino switch hitters of all-time.
Before Yurisbel Gracial won the Japan Series MVP last season, Destrade was the only Latino to have the distinction in that league, when he won the honor in 1990 and Seibu swept the Yomiuri 4-0 in route to franchise’s tenth Nippon League title.
Destrade was a key cog in the Lions three consecutive Japan Series titles from 1990-92.
A return to the Majors
In 1993 the power hitter made a return to the grand stage with the expansion Florida Marlins as their first baseman and key power source in their inaugural season.
That season although he hit .255 the then veteran led the fish in round-trippers with 20 and RBI with 87. Destrade was released by the ballclub the following season and in two years with the ball hit .246.
After his release by the Marlins, he returned to Japan for one last season before calling it quits in 1995.
A new career
After his retirement, he took up a career in broadcasting making appearances on MLB Tonight to start. Orestes Destrade has also been a color commentator for the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009.
He has also worked for ESPN and XM radio, Orestes has dabbled in Spanish-language broadcasting for Univision and ESPN Deportes.
In the current day, the Cuban is the host of the Tampa Bay Rays pre and post-game shows RAYS LIVE.
- Japan Series MVP (1990)
- 3× Best Nine Award (1990–1992)
- 3× Pacific League home run leader (1990–1992)
- 2× Pacific League RBI leader (1990, 1991)
- 3x Japan Series Champion