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LMB: Cuban OF Roel Santos Returns to Olmecas de Tabasco

 Leif Skodnick  |    Feb 28th, 2024 9:37am EST

Outfielder Roel Santos of Cuba hits a two-run triple to make it 0-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool B Game Two between China and Cuba at Tokyo Dome on March 8, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

Cuban outfielder Roel Santos is returning to the Olmecas de Tabasco of Liga Mexicana de Beisbol for his fifth season with the team, according to the team’s posts on social media.

Yussef Diaz of Pelota Cubana USA also confirmed Santos’ return on X on Monday.

Santos, 36, has played four seasons with the Olmecas de Tabasco since 2019 and has 15 years of professional baseball experience. He has represented Cuba in the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games, 2015 Pan American Games, 2017 World Baseball Classic, 2019 Pan American Games, and 2023 World Baseball Classic.

In addition, he played for Cuba in the 2015, 2017, and 2018 Caribbean Series. Santos helped the Vegueros de Pinar del Rio of the Serie Nacional defeat the Tomateros de Culiacán of the Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico 3-2 in the 2015 Caribbean Series championship game, the first Cuban championship at the Caribbean Series since 1960.

Santos likely would have played for the Olmecas de Tabasco in 2020, but the LMB canceled the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He appeared in 23 games for the Estrellas Orientales, most recently during the 2023-24 Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana season. He hit .231 with three RBI and nine stolen bases in 10 attempts.

During the 2023-24 LMB season with the Olmecas de Tabasco, Santos posted a .834 OPS with four home runs and 30 RBI. Tabasco finished the season in second place in the Sur division with a 46-37 record but lost to the Leones de Yucatan four games to one in the first round of the postseason.

The left-handed hitter has never appeared in minor league baseball or Major League Baseball in the United States, but signed with the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball, widely considered the second-best professional baseball league in the world, in May 2017. Santos hit .250 with three home runs and eight RBI in 66 games for Chiba Lotte.

Santos’ return to the Olmecas de Tabasco comes just two days after Yussef Diaz of Pelota Cubana USA announced on X that left-handed Cuban pitcher Yoennis Yara would return to the team this summer for his third season with the organization.

Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria will also join the Olmecas de Tabasco this year as a reinforcement, as announced by Beisbol Puro on X. Hechavarria, a nine-year Major League Baseball veteran, played 34 games with the Gigantes de Carolina during the winter in Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente.

Santos and the Olmecas de Tabasco will play their first game of the 2024 LMB season on Friday, April 12, against the Piratas de Campeche at their home stadium, Estadio Centenario 27 de Febrero in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico.