Duque Hebbert of Team Nicaragua pitches during Game 5 of Pool D at the World Baseball Classic between Team Dominican Republic and Team Nicaragua at loanDepot Park in March. He was signed by the Detroit Tigers following the game. (Photo by Rob Tringali/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network
Duque Hebbert signed with the Detroit Tigers after his epic performance in the World Baseball Classic was one of the biggest stories of the Classic. The Detroit Tigers announced their intent to sign him on March 13 and made it official on April 26.
Hebbert is a 21-year-old right-hander. He struck out the side against Dominican Republic team, fanning Rafael Devers, Julio Rodriguez and Juan Soto. Tigers scout and Nicaragua coach Luis Molina and signed Hebbert immediately following the game.
“The time of my signing was something very beautiful, unforgettable because it was something I dreamed of as a child,” Hebbert told World Baseball Network via WhatsApp.
It was a difficult journey for Hebbert to get to professional baseball, and there were many times he thought he would never see a deal from an MLB club. That didn’t stop him from working hard and staying disciplined to put himself in the best position to succeed.
What makes his rise even more impressive is that he’s been a pitcher for a little more than one season, converting from outfielder to a pitcher. He pitched in the Nicaraguan Winter League for Tren del Norte last season, throwing in 21 games, pitching 28.2 innings with 24 strikeouts and an ERA of 4.71.
“I felt very happy when I saw the contract, and I said that dreams can become real if one sets their mind to it,” Hebbert said via WhatsApp.
Hebbert doesn’t rely on velocity or a four-seam fastball when he pitches, relying on low-90s sliders and sinkers. He also has a changeup that clocks around the mid-80s. Location is key for him, and he saw success in the WBC when he hit the low and outside areas of the strike zone.
Hebbert met with Tigers Dominican scout Oliver Arias and their Director of Latin America Players Development Euclides Rojas to make the signing official on April 26. Hebbert is yet to throw a pitch for the Tigers organization, and they assigned him to their Dominican Summer League team.
“Now my goal is to work hard and get ahead with the Detroit Tigers team, [and put]God first,” Hebbert said.