By José Alejandro Rodríguez Zas
In the first days of last month, the Asociación de Peloteros Cubanos Profesionales (ACPBP: Association of Cuban Professional Baseball Players) was created in Miami, Florida, with the intention of gathering all the players from the Caribbean nation who play professionally away from the umbrella of the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB). Another goal is to try to convince the organizers of the World Baseball Classic to let Cuba have an independent team, having such athletes.
The idea has brought a lot of debate in social media over the past few weeks, with different comments and opinions. However, the general consensus seems to be that all Cuban players, regardless where they play and the circumstances of departure from the country of those who are not in Cuba, should be allowed to be members of the national team.
Yet the founders of the ACPBP have always been clear that their intentions are to call an Independent Cuban team, outside of the FCB control. Some important names of major leaguers have already agreed, including Raisel Iglesias, Aroldis Chapman and José Abreu.
Beyond the active players, many retired Cuban players have been showing their support for the ACPBP since the beginning, and have even started being part of its own origins, like Orlando “El Duque” Hernández, four-time World Series Champion and with nine MLB seasons, as well as Edilberto Oropesa, who played two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks and one with both the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Diego Padres, with an 8-4 ledger and 7.34 ERA.
Yesterday, from its Facebook profile, the ACPBP informed about the most different members of Cuban former major leaguers to the project, increasing the prestige of the Association.
“These are some of the most recent former MLB players who support our project… great Cuban players who retired without having the opportunity of representing all Cubans in the World Baseball Classic, but who are currently battling for the younger ones so we can see the best soon,” said their post.
In the image that comes with the text, there are 10 other players along with El Duque and Oropesa, some of them among the best Cubans to play in the Show:
René Arocha: Havana-born pitcher with four seasons in the MLB (3 with the St. Louis Cardinals and one with the San Francisco Giants), sporting an 18-17 ledger and 4.17 ERA.
José Ariel Contreras: Pinar del Río native who pitched 11 seasons in the Majors, World Series champion with the 2005 Chicago White Sox. He also played with the New York Yankees, the Colorado Rockies and the Philadelphia Phillies, sporting a 78-67 record with a 4.57 ERA.
Liván Hernández: Villa Clara-born hurler who played 17 MLB campaigns with several teams: Florida Marlins, San Francisco Giants, Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and New York Mets. He won 178 games against 177 losses with a 4.44 ERA.
Brayan Peña: Havana-born catcher with a 12-year MLB career, playing for the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, with a .259 AVG, 23 HR and 164 RBI.
Yonder Alonso: First baseman from Havana, with 10 MLB seasons, playing for the Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and Colorado Rockies, sporting a .259 BA with 100 HR and 426 RBI.
Ariel Prieto: Havana-born pitcher with six campaigns in the Show, five of them with the Oakland A’s and one with the Tampa Bay Rays, with a 15-24 record and a 4.85 ERA.
Rolando Arrojo: Pitcher from Villa Clara with a five-year experience in the Majors, pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox, with 40 wins and 42 losses and 4.55 ERA.
Alberto Castillo: Pitcher with four years in the Big Leagues, three of them with the Baltimore Orioles and one with the Arizona Diamondbacks, sporting a 3-0 record and an ERA of 4.81.
Hansel Izquierdo: Selected in the 1995 draft by the Florida Marlins. He made it all the way to the majors with the team, pitching one season with a 2-0 record and a 4.55 ERA.
Jorge Luis Toca: Villa Clara-born first sacker who made it to the Majors with the New York Mets, playing three seasons for them with a .259 AVG and five runs batted in.
It is a fact that the future of the ACBPB in fulfilling their main goals remains to be seen, but the truth is that we have seen the birth of an Association capable of uniting Cuban professional baseball players and has the plus of having a set of glorious names included among its members. At the same time, there is a lot of support from a great part of the fans and followers of Cuban baseball.