Infielder Yurisbel Gracial of Cuba lines out in the bottom of the sixth inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool E Game Five between Netherlands and Cuba at the Tokyo Dome on March 15, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Cuban utility player Yurisbel Gracial was invited to Venados de Mazatlan’s camp in the Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacífico with a chance to make the roster for the 2023-24 season, Ariel Santa Cruz of Pelota Cubana reported on Tuesday.
All Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico teams will begin their training camps near the end of September, The 2023-24 season starts on October 13.
Gracial, 37, was born in Guantanamo, Cuba and played in the Serie Nacional for seven seasons with Cocodrilos de Matanzas from 2009-2016 before committing to play outside of Cuba.
During the 2016 season, Gracial played with the Capitales de Quebec of the Canadian American Association. Gracial won the CANAM Championship title in 2017 when Quebec swept the Rockland Boulders in three games. In two seasons, he played in 182 games with 783 plate appearances, batting .327 and recording 229 hits, 42 doubles, seven triples, 22 home runs, 123 RBI, 24 stolen bases, 64 walks, and 106 strikeouts with a .890 OPS before heading to Japan in 2018.
In his first season with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, Gracial helped them win their ninth Japan Series title in 2018, hitting .292 in 54 games with 202 plate appearances and 54 hits, six doubles, one triple, nine home runs, 30 RBI, 15 walks, and 34 strikeouts with a .828 OPS.
Gracial played in 362 games for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks from Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan for five seasons from 2018-22. He batted .293 recording 380 hits in 1,424 plate appearances including 54 doubles, 4 triples, 59 home runs, 178 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 97 walks, and 282 strikeouts including a .824 OPS.
Gracial helped the Softbank Hawks organization win three Japan Series titles in his career from 2018-2020.
Gracial was on the Cuban national team during the 2023 World Baseball Classic back in March. During the tournament he played three games in left field hitting .250 with four at-bats recording one triple along with a 1.000 OPS and helping Cuba reach the semifinals in Miami at loanDepot Park as they lost to the United States 14-2.
Gracial was selected to the 53-man preselection roster for the 2023 Pan American Games after helping Cuba earn silver at the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games after the gold medal game against Mexico got rained out in San Salvador, El Salvador at Estadio Saturnino Bengoa on July 1. Mexico earned the gold due to having a better overall record than all of the participating countries at the baseball event in the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games.
Cuba is ranked No. 7 in the World Baseball Rankings and will appear in the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile aiming for their 13th gold medal at the event.
The Pan American Games will have a total of eight nations in the baseball event, including No. 3 Mexico, No. 6 Venezuela, No. 10 Dominican Republic, No. 14 Panama, No. 15 Colombia, No. 24 Brazil, and host nation Chile, which is not ranked in the World Baseball Rankings. Chile has not been ranked in two consecutive change ranking cycles from the WBSC beginning on December 31, 2022 and March 28, 2023 after the World Baseball Classic.
The Pan American Games baseball tournament will be held from October 21 to October 27 at the Baseball and Softball Center in Cerrillos, Chile.
Gracial played in seven games during the Central American and Caribbean Games, splitting time as the designated hitter and playing left field defensively. In 24 at-bats, Gracial hit .375 recording nine hits, one double, one triple, four RBI, one hit-by-pitch, and no strikeouts including a .900 OPS.
Gracial played in the summer season with Cocodrilos de Matanzas in Serie Nacional in 45 games combined between the playoffs and the regular season batting .390 recording 48 hits in 146 plate appearances along with seven doubles, six home runs, 37 RBI, 18 walks, and eight strikeouts. Cocodrilos de Matanzas would lose to the eventual 2023 Serie Nacional Champions Leñadores de Las Tunas in six games during the semifinals.
The Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico 2023-24 regular season will begin on October 13.
Venados de Mazatlán will play on the road against Charros de Jalisco on October 13 at 9:30 p.m. EDT at Estadio Panamericano.
All Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico regular season games will be on https://www.extrabase.tv/home paid streaming service through the final out of their championship series in January, right before the 2024 Caribbean Series in Miami at loanDepot Park.