Elian Leyva of Team Cuba pitches at the top of the first inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool A game between Chinese Taipei and Cuba at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium on March 12, 2023 in Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Rakuten Monkeys starting pitcher Elian Leyva was released on Saturday according to CPBLSTATS.com.
Leyva, 34, born in La Habana, Cuba, played his first year in the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan, after signing with the organization this past offseason.
Leyva started in 12 games, going 4-3 with a 3.88 ERA over 67.1 innings while allowing 70 hits, 29 earned runs, five home runs, 28 walks, 56 strikeouts, and recorded a 1.455 WHIP.
Back in March, Leyva pitched for the Cuban National Team during the 2023 World Baseball Classic, going 1-0 in one start along with one appearance out of the bullpen, a 7.36 ERA over 3.2 innings, allowing four hits, three earned runs, one home run, three walks, and five strikeouts with a 1.91 WHIP.
This past winter league season, Leyva played with Naranjeros de Hermosillo in Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico. He started in 10 games, throwing 51.2 innings while going 7-3 and allowing 46 hits, 14 earned runs, two home runs, 22 walks, 52 strikeouts and a 1.316 WHIP.
Last season, Leyva played for Pirates de Campeche and Leones de Yucatán in Liga Mexicana de Beisbol.
With the Pirates, Leyva threw 57.1 innings starting in 11 games with one complete game going 4-6 with a 5.34 ERA allowing 69 hits, 34 earned runs, eight home runs, 15 walks, and struck out 50 batters including a 1.465 WHIP.
Leyva was picked up by Leones de Yucatan prior to the start of the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol playoffs and helped them win their fifth Serie Del Rey Championship, beating Sultanes de Monterrey in seven games.
Leyva went 1-0 in three starts recording a 1.88 ERA throwing 14.1 innings allowing eight hits, three earned runs, two home runs, one walk, and 19 strikeouts facing 51 batters along with a 0.628 WHIP.
In the 2021 season, Leyva played for three teams in Liga Mexicana de Béisbol, Piratas de Campeche, Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos, and Algodoneros de Unión Laguna along with the Naranjeros de Hermosillo in the winter.
Leyva in two leagues combined with a 10-8 record with a 4.09 ERA in 22 starts throwing 116.2 innings allowing 117 hits, 53 earned runs, five home runs, 36 walks, and 88 strikeouts along with a 1.311 WHIP.
Leyva has been a journeyman since he left Cuba after the 2014-15 Serie Nacional winter league season. After playing for the Huracanes de Mayabeque, he left for Spain played in Division de Honor de Béisbol operated by the Real Federación Española de Béisbol y Sófbol during the 2016 season for CB Barcelona, going 4-2, recording the league-best ERA at 0.70 ERA, striking out 82 batters in 64 innings and notching one save while holding opponents to a .127 batting average.
Leyva has played in international leagues in Mexico, Spain, and in Italy with Fortitudo Unipolsai Bologna in Serie A1 during 2020. He’s also appeared in the winter league in Venezuela in his career, and signed with the Atlanta Braves on November 11, 2016 as an international free agent to a minor league contract.
He spent three years with the Braves in Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. In two seasons in the minor leagues, Leyva threw 105 innings going 4-3 with a 3.09 ERA in appearing in 43 games along with seven starts he has allowed 102 hits, 36 earned runs, five home runs, 27 walks, and 95 strikeouts facing 447 batters including a 1.229 WHIP.
Leyva hopes to use the upcoming winter league season to showcase himself and find a place to play in South Korea in the Korean Baseball Organization or Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan.
He’s previously played for Spain in international senior events after receiving citizenship prior to the 2019 European Championships in Solingen, Germany along with helping them win the Bronze Medal over Israel 16-11 and playing in the 2019 World Baseball Softball Confederation Europe and Africa Olympic Qualifier in Parma and Bologna, Italy.
Other opportunities might await Leyva if he chooses to participate in the Pan American Games and Caribbean Cup for Cuba over the next two months in hopes of finding a place to play in the winter leagues this upcoming season.
Cuba has participated in all four Caribbean Cups hosted by the Confederación del Caribe de Béisbol, which is part of the World Baseball Softball Confederation Americas sector. The Fifth Caribbean Cup will be in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at Hiram Bithorn Stadium from October 1-8 The participants have yet to be announced.