Cazaña Continues his Globehopping Ways

Outfielder Amaury Cazaña played for his third team in three different countries this winter and 18th stop overall since 2005.

Even before he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 18th round of the 2006 Draft and certainly since, Amaury Antonio Cazaña (Marti) has been changing his jerseys regularly. In the last five years alone since his escape from Cuba in April 2005, Cazaña has made at least 18 different stops. 


The recent


In the last 12 months alone, the vagabond has made six stops, including five different teams in five different leagues in four countries. Even better yet, this week Cazaña joined his third winter ball team in his third country since December.


The outfielder was assigned to Oaxaca in the Mexican League this summer, where he had a tremendous campaign. His line was .356/.417/.599 and he hit 13 home runs and drove in 40 in 247 at-bats. However, his 2009 summer ended prematurely due to a wrist injury.


After rehabbing in Jupiter, Florida, Cazaña returned to Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League for a second consecutive season. He appeared in 26 games, but really struggled. His line in 67 at-bats was .194/.236/.239 before his release.


In early January, Cazaña showed up next back in Mexico, playing left field and batting fifth for Los Mayos de Navojoa. He hit .350, slammed two home runs and plated ten RBI, but his club was eliminated in the first round of the tournament in six games. Former Cardinals farmhand Reid Gorecki was a teammate and played in right field.


Not ready to take even one month off before spring training, Cazaña re-appeared in his third country this winter, in Venezuela. Joining Tiburones de La Guaira in the semi-finals, a round-robin tournament, Cazaña was likely expected to add instant offense for a club that was only 1 ½ games out of first place at the time. He appeared in two games, going 0-for-7 with a walk before La Guaira was eliminated.


The future


Questions about Cazaña always begin with his age, which is 31 years old if you believe the player's own words as he insisted to me after signing and was readily accepted by the Cardinals. On the other hand, multiple Cuban baseball websites listed Cazaña as having been born four years earlier. To break the tie, also goes with the earlier birth date, calling him 35.


Cazaña's future has as many questions as his past. After having received a non-roster invitation to St. Louis Cardinals spring training camp in 2008, he did not get such an offer in 2009. Cazaña did make one appearance when he was called over from the minor league fields for a bit of garbage-time action with the big club.


Another even more telling indication of his future is the fact that there was no place for Cazaña to play with Triple-A Memphis for the second consecutive season. In 2008, he managed 28 games there before being shipped out. In 2009, he was gone before the Redbirds left Florida.


Many remain ahead of him in 2010, including Shane Robinson, Nick Stavinoha and Joe Mather, who all have MLB experience and spots on the 40-man roster, while Jon Jay and Allen Craig also have roster spots and momentum coming in. Top prospect Daryl Jones and upcoming Tyler Henley are pushing up from Springfield.


In other words, with no apparent place to play, Cazaña may be traveling again in 2010.


The past


Cazaña has compiled a most interesting travel itinerary in his time as a ballplayer. He had played on national teams in Cuba since at least 1997 before escaping to Mexico in 2005.


After moving to the USA, he played a handful of games with a one independent team and was embroiled in a contract dispute with another before making a celebrated appearance at the Cardinals Minor League Spring Training camp in March, 2006, where the anonymous newcomer blasted several long home runs.


The Cardinals thought as a Cuban, Cazaña was eligible to be signed, but learned he had to go through the draft instead. This was due to the fact that he had established residency in Florida and therefore was no longer considered a foreigner.


Here are some of the uniforms Cazaña has worn in the last five years alone – 18 destinations by my count and I likely missed a few winter league stops in the first couple of years:


  1. 2005: Elmira of the independent CanAm League
  2. 2005: Shreveport Sports of the independent Central League (under contract)
  3. 2006: Palm Beach of the A-Advanced Florida State League
  4. 2006: Springfield of the Double-A Texas League
  5. 2006: Peoria of the Arizona Fall League
  6. 2007: Minatitlan of the Triple-A Mexican League
  7. 2007: Back to Springfield
  8. 2007: Mesa of the Arizona Fall League
  9. 2007-08: Boer of the Nicaraguan Winter League
  10. 2008: St. Louis Cardinals spring training
  11. 2008: Memphis of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League
  12. 2008: Diablos Rojos del Mexico of the Mexican League
  13. 2008-09: Licey of the Dominican Winter League
  14. 2009: Memphis again spring training
  15. 2009: Oaxaca of the Mexican League
  16. 2009-10: Licey of the Dominican Winter League again
  17. 2010: Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League
  18. 2010: La Guaira of the Venezuelan Winter League



Brian Walton can be reached via email at Catch his daily commentary at Follow Brian on Twitter.


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