Alexei Ramirez, Yoenis Céspedes, and Jose Abreu will always be etched in Cuban baseball history not only for their performance on the field, but they are also the only three Cuban MLB players to defect and reach the bigs without having to go through the minors.
This is something that is very noteworthy considering the amount of talent that has left the island in the last 10 years since the flood gates for defections opened up following the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
The three MLB players coincidentally shared the field at the 2014 all-star game in Minnesota.
Today’s White Sox highlight is Alexei Ramirez’s grand slam in game 162 of the 2008 season, which helped the Sox advance to the Blackout Game.pic.twitter.com/4IuzhzhHQu
— Mike (@ChiSoxFanMike) February 9, 2022
Alexei Ramírez (The Cuban Missle)
Ramirez was one of the first players to leave Cuba following the ‘06 WBC, but he left via a marriage visa to the Dominican Republic, but once there he decided to apply for MLB free agency.
In his career, Ramirez was a two-time silver slugger winner, one-time all-star, and hit .270 during his time on the grand stage. He also had over a thousand hits and 100 round-trippers.
— J&Tsportsbetting (@JTsportsbetting) August 5, 2023
Yoenis Céspedes (La Potencia)
Yoenis Céspedes is known to fans on the island as “The Potency” (La Potencia), because of his potential for making the explosive play at any time and from anywhere on the field.
This five-tool outfielder announced himself to the world in the 2009 World Baseball Classic when he slashed .458/.480/1.000 belted three triples, two homers, and drove in five runs.
THREE homers tonight for José Abreu. 😤 pic.twitter.com/zWKByrlPhQ
— MLB (@MLB) August 23, 2020
Jose Abreu (Pito)
Abreu gained notoriety in 2013 WBC where he hit .383, went yard three times, and drove in nine as the first baseman for the Cuban team. Later that year the slugger decided to defect from the island and try his hand in professional baseball. He established residency in August of 2013 and signed a 6 year 68 million dollar contract with the Whitesox in September.
In his first season was a hit the first baseman was selected to the all-star team and destroyed MLB pitching to the tune of .317 batting average that was accompanied by 36 long balls and 107 runs knocked in.
Abreu was also name Rookie of the year in 2014 and the AL MVP in 2020. This offseason he signed the Houston Astros and is his first season with the defending World Champions is hitting .234 with 10 homers and 56 RBIs.