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It’s Opening Day For Cuba’s Serie Nacional

 Conor Liguori  |    Mar 9th, 2024 2:49pm EST

Estadio LatinoAmericano in Havana, Cuba. (Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Allsport)

The 2024 Serie Nacional de Beisbol season begins on Saturday, March 9, and seven games are on the Opening Day schedule. This Serie Nacional de Beisbol season is the 63rd year of the league since the inaugural winter season in 1961-62.

The 16 teams competing in Serie Nacional de Béisbol this season are the Vegueros de Pinar del Río, Huracanes de Mayabeque, Industriales, Elefantes de Cienfuegos, Gallos de Sancti Spíritus, Toros de Camaguey, Sabuesos de Holguin, Avispas de Santiago de Cuba, Cazadores de Artemisa, Piratas de Isla de la Juventud, Cocodrilos de Matanzas, Naranjas de Villa Clara, Tigres de Ciego de Ávila, Leñadores de Las Tunas, Alazanes de Granma, and the Indios de Guantánamo.

The Lenadores de Las Tunas swept the Industriales in the 2023 championship round to secure the organization’s second title. Starting in 2023, the top six teams in Serie Nacional de Beisbol qualify to participate in Cuba’s winter professional baseball league, Liga Élite del Béisbol Cubano.

Players to Watch

Alexei Ramirez, SS, Vegueros de Pinar del Rio – Ramirez, 42, returns to professional baseball in Cuba after 12 years in Major League Baseball and Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. He was a one-time MLB All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger with the Chicago

White Sox. Ramirez’s last professional baseball game was 2018 with the Diablos Rojos del México.

Ramirez played the first seven seasons of his career with the Vegueros de Pinar del Rio and led the league with 20 home runs in 2007. He never finished with a batting average below .308 in Serie Nacional de Beisbol and hit .421 in 17 games as an 18-year-old in 2001.

Naykel Cruz, LHP, Cocodrilos de Matanzas – 2024 will be Cruz’s fifth season with the Cocodrilos de Matanzas. He debuted with the team in 2019. Since then, he has been a strong pitcher in the organization and had his best statistical season in 2023.

After returning from Mexico with the Piratas de Campeche in 2022, Cruz made 16 starts and posted a 3.24 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 83.1 innings for Matanzas during the 2023 season. Like Cespedes, Cruz was on Cuba’s 2023 World Baseball Classic roster.

Yosmany Tomas, OF, Industriales – Tomas, played four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2015-19 and hit 31 home runs with the club in 2016. Since 2019, Tomas has played minor-league baseball with the Washington Nationals and the last two seasons in Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacífico with the Cañeros de Los Mochis.

Tomas played the first five seasons of his professional baseball career with the Industriales and can provide the team some power in the heart of the order. He hit 10 home runs in each of the last two years with the Cañeros de Los Mochis.

Postseason Format- The top eight teams will qualify for the postseason. All three rounds of the postseason (quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals) will be the best four out of seven series. The final day of the regular season is Thursday, June 20.

Opening Day Schedule (Saturday, March 9)

All Times Eastern Standard Time

2 p.m. – Cazadores de Artemisa vs. Vegueros de Pinar del Rio

2 p.m. – Sabuesos de Holguín vs. Naranjas de Villa Clara

2 p.m. – Toros de Camaguey vs. Tigres de Ciego de Ávila

2 p.m. – Industriales vs. Piratas de Isla de la Juventud

2 p.m. – Leñadores de Las Tunas vs. Alazanes de Granma

2 p.m. – Cocodrilos de Matanzas vs. Huracanes de Mayabeque

2 p.m. – Gallos de Sancti Spíritus vs. Elefantes de Cienfuegos

2 p.m. – Avispas de Santiago de Cuba vs. Indios de Guantánamo

How to Watch – Serie Nacional de Beisbol fans can livestream select games on the Tele Rebelde or Roberto TV Deportes YouTube pages.

NOTEBOOK: The Federacion Cubana de Béisbol released the following statement on X on Friday. “Taking into account the country’s energy situation, analyzed in the provinces that have stadiums with artificial lighting, it has been decided that for the moment, the #63SNB games will begin at 2 p.m.”