In a perfect world, the Cuban National Team has one of the best rosters going into the 2017 World Baseball Classic. A team comprised of Aroldis Chapman, Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig just to name a few would have been in the running for a world championship.
However, the world we live in is not perfect; especially not in international baseball. The Cuban National Team will be comprised of players only in the Serie Nacional de Béisbol, translated to english as the National Series of Baseball. No player wearing Cuba across their chest will be on 40-man Major League roster and for even a dedicated baseball fan, identifying all names on the roster is not an easy task.
Frank Morejón: Although not a household, Morejón is no stranger to international baseball. The newly turned 31-year old was on the Cuban National Team that won bronze at the 2015 Pan American Games and has been on the Cuban National roster since 2011. Looking at Morejón’s, statistics, one will see that the aging catcher does not play a lot. However, his experience both in the locker room and in regards to off-the-field activates should aid the younger Cuban players who need guidance. Handling the international spotlight is not easy; based on experience, Morejóns presences should be felt in the Cuban locker room.
Alfredo Despaigne: A veteran of baseball at all levels, Despaigne brings both on the field capabilities as well as similar leadership qualities to Morejón. Despaigne hit .280 in 570 plate appearances for a Japanese team in 2016. He has played 13 years of professional baseball and has similar experience to Morejón internationally. There is not a better combination of both on the field accomplishments experience than Despaigne.
Pitchers: Freddy Alverez, Bladimir Banos, Lazaro Blanco, Erly Casanova, Yoalkis Cruz, Dachel Duquesne, Noervys Entenza, Jose Garcia, Vladamir Garcia, Liomil Gonzalez, Yasmany Hernandez, Miguel Lahera, Jonder Martinez, Leandro Martinez, Raidel Martinez, Frank Medlina, Livan Moinelo, Jose Rodriguez, Alain Sanchez, Yosbany Torres, Yoennis Yera
Catchers: Yosvani Alarcon, Frank Morejón, Osvaldo Vasquez
Infielders: Guillermo Aviles, Alexander Ayala, Carlos Benitez, Jeferson Delgado, Yurisbel Gracial, Yordan, Manduley, Willian Saavedra
Outfielders: Frederich Cepeda, Yoelqui Cespedes, Alfredo Despaigne, Victor Mesa
A large number of the players on the roster for Cuba did not play professional baseball in 2016. For the small number that did, they were playing in leagues with competition far inferior to the kinds of players they will face on an international level. Even if Cuba scraps themselves into the later stages of the tournament, do not expect Cuba to hoist the trophy. There is just too much competition for as inexperienced a group as that.