Miguel Romero of Team Cuba pitches in the third inning against Team USA during the World Baseball Classic Semifinals at loanDepot park on March 19, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
Pitcher Miguel Romero has decided not to play for Cuba in the 2023 Pan American Games.
According to CubanBaseballDigest.Com, Romero has shifted his focus to finding his next professional baseball contract. He was released earlier this season by the Oakland Athletics after recording a 6.60 ERA in 14 games with Triple-A Las Vegas.
“At this stage in my career, I do not have any interest in playing for Cuba,” Romero told Yusseff Diaz of CubanBaseballDigest.Com. “As of right now I am training in the Dominican Republic for the winter leagues and preparing for any possible future signing with a professional team.”
Romero began his professional baseball career as an 18-year-old in the Serie Nacional de Beisbol, the primary professional baseball league in Cuba. In four years with Indios de Guantanamo, Romero appeared in 46 games and had a 4.80 ERA.
He signed with the Oakland Athletics as an international free agent in 2017 and advanced quickly through their system. Romero was promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas in 2019, but was never called up to Major League Baseball. Romero’s best statistical minor league season came in 2019, recording a win-loss record of 4-1 with 81 strikeouts in 72.2 innings.
Romero pitched in 10 games in 2019-20 with Indios de Mayaguez of Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente, the winter professional baseball league in Puerto Rico. He recorded a 1.46 ERA and had 13 strikeouts in 12.1 innings. He returned to Puerto Rico in the winter of 2022-23, playing for Gigantes de Carolina. Romero allowed no earned runs and six hits in seven innings.
The 29-year-old played for Cuba in the 2023 World Baseball Classic and was named one of three pitchers on the All-Tournament Team. The other two pitchers included Shohei Ohtani and Patrick Sandoval, both members of the Los Angeles Angels. Romero led the tournament in strikeouts with 13 and pitched in five games for Cuba. No other pitcher in the World Baseball Classic appeared in more than four. Opposing hitters had a combined .219 batting average against Romero at the WBC. Cuba won Pool A of the World Baseball Classic but lost to the United States 14-2 in the semifinals.
With Romero opting out of the Pan American Games, Cuba will need other pitchers to have standout performances. Left-handed pitcher Onelkis Garcia last pitched in Major League Baseball in 2017 with the Kansas City Royals, but has excelled this Liga Mexicana de Beisbol season with Leones de Yucatán. Garcia had a 2.31 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 50.2 innings during the regular season.
Starting pitcher Carlos Viera’s innings could also increase due to Romero’s absence. Viera recorded 48 strikeouts and allowed only three home runs in 56.2 innings this season for Olmecas de Tabasco of Liga Mexicana de Beisbol.
Eight nations will compete at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. The seven countries that have qualified thus far are No. 3 Mexico, No. 6 Venezuela, No. 10 Dominican Republic, No. 14 Panama, No. 15 Colombia, No. 24 Brazil, and the host nation Chile, which is not ranked in the World Baseball Rankings.
The Pan American Games baseball tournament will be held from October 21 to October 27 at the Baseball and Softball Center in Cerrillos, Chile.