Cuba Will Play at Caribbean Cup In Puerto Rico; 20-Year-Old Pitcher Hechevarria Leaves For D.R.

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

Right-handed pitcher Silvano Hechevarria has left Cuba hoping to land a Major League Baseball contract, Francys Romero of reported this week.

The 20-year-old is from Havana, Cuba, and played for Industriales de La Habana last Serie Nacional de Béisbol season.

Hechevarria had a 4.25 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 42.1 innings in 2022 for Industriales. He recently showcased his talents in front of scouts from Asia and the Caribbean. According to Francys Romero, he featured a fastball of around 91-92 mph and a slider of approximately 84 mph. The average fastball velocity in Major League Baseball was 93.9 mph in 2022 (per the Associated Press). As Hechevarria develops and spends time in the weight room, he should receive significant interest from baseball scouts across various professional baseball leagues.

Like many other professional baseball players from Cuba, Hechevarria will travel to the Dominican Republic to train in preparation for showcasing his abilities to Major League Baseball scouts. Recently, World Baseball Network reported that Cuban baseball player Pedro Revilla of the Chunichi Dragons also traveled to the Dominican Republic to find a new contract.

Hechevarria is one of many Cuban baseball players to flee their home country in search of a better opportunity in professional baseball. Others continue representing the island in international tournaments such as the World Baseball Classic, Caribbean Series, and the Caribbean Cup.

Cuba Will Play at Caribbean Cup: Francys Romero recently reported on Thursday that Cuba’s participation in the 2023 Caribbean Cup in Puerto Rico from October 1-8 was in question.

Reportedly, half the team had no visas to travel to the tournament. If the team could not receive their passports, they would have been unable to play. The other three nations participating in the Caribbean Baseball Cup are Puerto Rico, Curacao, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

On Friday, Romero reported that Cuba had resolved the visa situation, and they would fly to Puerto Rico on Saturday as expected. The only player unable to play in the tournament is relief pitcher Yunieski Garcia. Renner Rivero of the Cocodrilos de Matanzas is scheduled to replace Garcia. Rivero had a 4.55 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 89 innings in the 2021-22 season for Matanzas.

Yunieski Garcia has his visa, but Yordano Carmona of reported that the Federacion Cubana de Beisbol has classified him as a player who may have tried to escape while in Puerto Rico.

Cuba’s 2023 Caribbean Cup roster features returning players from the 2023 World Baseball Classic, including outfielder Roel Santos and pitcher Jose Rodriguez. Andrys Perez will return as the primary catcher. Perez only recorded two plate appearances in the World Baseball Classic but is an up-and-coming catching prospect in Serie Nacional de Béisbol with Cocodrilos de Matanzas.

The 2023 Caribbean Baseball Cup will occur in Fajardo and Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, from October 1-8. Cuba will open the tournament against the U.S. Virgin Islands on Sunday, October 1, at 3:30 p.m. ET at Estadio Concepción Pérez Alberto in Fajardo. They took home the silver medal in both 2021 and 2022. Each team will receive a day off on Wednesday, October 4, and the Championship game will be on Sunday, October 8, at 7:30 p.m. ET at Estadio Concepcion Perez Alberto.

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