World Baseball Network
Dec. 23, 2022
Puerto Rico has a baseball history that dates back to the late 19th century, and the island is one of the founding nations of the Caribbean Series, along with Cuba, Venezuela and Panama. The winner of the Roberto Clemente Winter League, formerly known as Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico until 2007, is the team represents Puerto Rico during the Caribbean Series. After the 2022 Caribbean Series, San Juan and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic have each hosted 11 Caribbean Series. Puerto Rico has 16 Caribbean Series titles in total, the second-most behind the Dominican Republic with 21.
Cangerjeos de Santurce and Criollos de Caguas each have five titles in the Roberto Clemente Winter League for second among countries to win the Caribbean Series. Puerto Rico has played in two World Baseball Classic finals, in 2013 against the Dominican Republic at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and in 2017 against the United States at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
A total of 302 Puerto Rican players have made it to the Major Leagues. During the past 2022 season Puerto Rico was represented by 16 players from the island. The first major league player from Puerto Rico to make his debut in the Majors was Hiram Bithorn for the Chicago Cubs on April 15, 1942. World Baseball Network has compiled this list of the Top 10 Puerto Rican players in the game’s history.
10. Carlos Beltran – MLB: Kansas City, 1998–2004; Houston, 2004; New York(N.L.), 2005–11; San Francisco, 2011; St. Louis, 2012–13; New York (A.L.), 2014–16; Texas, 2016; Houston, 2017.
Beltran was selected out of Fernando Callejo High School in the 1995 MLB Amateur Draft in the second round by Kansas City. After being a shortstop for most of his high school career, he moved to the outfield during his senior year. After he signed, Beltran rapidly advanced through the Royals system. He played in a combined 99 games with being in Class A and Class AA in 1998, clubbing 19 home runs and 76 RBI 428 plate appearances before being called up to the Majors on Sept. 14, 1998. In his Major League career, Beltran posted a batting average of .279 with 2,725 hits, 435 home runs, and 1,587 RBI. Beltran was a nine-time All-Star, a 2017 World Series champion, the A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1999, a three-time Gold Glove winner and a two-time Silver Slugger winner. Beltran also won the Roberto Clemente Award during the 2013 season. In 65 career games in the postseason, Beltran has had 256 plate appearances with 16 home runs, 42 RBI and a lifetime average of .307. Beltran played in four World Baseball Classics with Puerto Rico, and appeared in the finals of the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics.
9. Jorge Posada – MLB: New York Yankees, 1995–2011.
Posada an infielder in his early years in the Yankees organization, but moved to behind the plate toward the middle of his minor league career, and made his debut in the majors on Sept. 4, 1995. During Posada’s career, he was a five-time All-Star, five-time World Series champion, and five-time Silver Slugger winner. He finished his career with 275 home runs and 1,065 RBI while batting .273. Posada’s number 20 was retired by the Yankees, and he has a plaque in Monument Park.
8. Juan Gonzalez – Texas, 1989–99, 2002-03; Detroit, 2000; Cleveland, 2001; Kansas City, 2004; Cleveland, 2005.
Gonzalez signed as an amateur free agent on May 30, 1986 at age 16. During his Major League career, Gonzalez was a three-time All-Star, two-time American League MVP, two-time American League home run leader, and six-time Silver Slugger winner. He led the American League in RBI during the 1998 season. He batted .295 with 434 home runs and 1,404 RBI during his career. Gonzalez is in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame.
7. Carlos Delgado -Toronto, 1993–2004; Florida, 2005; New York (N.L.), 2006–09.
In 1992, Delgado played in the Class A Florida State League for the Dunedin Blue Jays, hitting 30 home runs, 100 RBI and posting a league-leading average batting at .324 on his way to being named USA Today’s Minor League Player of the Year. Delgado made his debut for the Blue Jays on Oct. 1, 1993. His lifetime batting average in the majors was .280, with 2,038 hits during his career and 473 home runs. Delgado had 1,512 career RBI and was the led the American League in RBI in 2003. Delgado was a two-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger winner, A.L. Hank Aaron winner, and Roberto Clemente Award winner during his career. He’s one of just 18 players hit four home runs in a game, accomplishing the feat on Sept. 25, 2003. In the 1995 Caribbean Series, Delgado suited up for the Puerto Rico Winter League champion Senadores de San Juan Senators, alongside Edgar Martinez, Roberto Alomar, Bernie Williams, Carlos Baerga, Ruben Sierra, and Juan Gonzalez, a squad that went undefeated on their way to the 1995 Caribbean Series title. Delgado played for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and was the hitting coach during the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics.
6. Orlando Cepeda – San Francisco, 1958–66; St. Louis, 1966–68; Atlanta, 1969–72; Oakland, 1972; Boston, 1973; Kansas City, 1974.
The son of Puerto Rican great Pedro “Perucho” Cepeda, Orlando was the Cangrejeros de Santurce’s bat boy during the 1952-53 Winter League season, where Pedro Zorilla of Santurce would watch him during his young playing days. Zorilla was an advocate for the young Cepeda’s success, and helped buy his plane ticket so that he could participate in a New York Giants tryout, and he eventually made his Major League debut on April 15, 1958. Cepeda’s lifetime batting was .297, with 2,351 career hits, 379 home runs, and 1,365 RBI during his career. Cepeda would become an 11-time All-Star, 1967 World Series champion, and the 1967 National League MVP. He was the 1958 National League Rookie of the year, National League home run leader in 1961, and a two-time N.L. RBI leader. Cepeda was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 by the Veterans Committee and is the first Puerto Rican player to be inducted into Cooperstown.
5. Edgar Martinez – Seattle, 1987–2004.
Martinez was born in New York City and grew up in Dorado. He fell in love with the game of baseball biggest of his older cousin former big leaguer Carmelo Martinez who was also a legend in the Puerto Rico Winter League. After five years in the minors, Martinez made his major league debut on Sept. 12, 1987 after playing most of the season at Class AAA Calgary. During his Major League career, he batted .312 with 2,247 career hits, 309 home runs and 1,261 RBI. He was a seven-time All-Star, a five-time Silver Slugger winner, a two-time American League batting champion, and the A.L. RBI champion during the 2000 season. Martinez was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019 in his 10th year on the ballot, and was the first player elected based on his prowess as a designated hitter.
4. Roberto Alomar – San Diego, 1988–90; Toronto, 1991–95; Baltimore, 1996–98; Cleveland, 1999–2001; New York (N.L.) 2002–03; Chicago (A.L.), 2003-04; Arizona, 2004.
The son of Sandy Alomar, Sr., Roberto Alomar grew up on surrounded by baseball during his childhood. Alomar made his debut on April 22, 1988 for San Diego. He batted .300 with 2,724 hits, 210 home runs, 1,134 RBI and 474 stolen bases during his career. He was a 12-time All-Star in consecutive years from 1990 to 2001 and a two-time World Series champion with the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993. He won the Gold Glove award 10 times and was the American League Championship Series MVP in the 1992 season. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011 on his second ballot.
3. Yadier Molina -St. Louis, 2004–2022.
The brother of former Major League catchers Bengie and Jose Molina, Yadier built a legacy that should earn him induction the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Molina was selected in the fourth round of the 2000 MLB Amateur Draft by St. Louis and invited to Spring Training in 2001 and made his debut for the St. Louis Cardinals on June 3, 2004. During his Major League career, Molina posted a batting average of .277 with 2,168 hits, 176 home runs, and 1,022 RBI. Molina was a 10-time All-Star during his career, a two-time World Series champion, a nine-time gold glove award winner, the 2013 Silver Slugger winner and the 2018 Roberto Clemente Award. Molina has played in four World Baseball Classics and played in two WBC finals. He will lead Puerto Rico as their manager during the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
2. Ivan Rodriguez – Texas, 1991–2002, 2009; Florida, 2003; Detroit, 2004–08; New York (A.L.), 2008; Houston, 2009; Texas, 2009; Washington, 2010–11.
Pudge Rodriguez made his MLB debut during the 1991 season after playing in Double-A in Tulsa for the first half of the season. Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star during his career, a World Series champion in 2003, the A.L. MVP in 1999, 13-time gold glove award winner, the National League Championship Series MVP in 2003, and a seven-time Silver Slugger award winner. Pudge was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017 by the Baseball Writers Association of America on his first ballot.
1. Roberto Clemente – Pittsburgh, 1955–72.
The youngest of seven children, Clemente first appeared in pro baseballwith the Cangrejeros de Santurce in the 1952-53 season. During his time with Santurce, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed him to play for their Class AAA affiliate in Montreal. After a few months in the Dodgers organization, Clemente was the first selection in the Rule 5 draft, when he was taken by Pittsburgh. On April 17, 1955 Clemente would make his Major League debut for Pittsburgh, where he played his entire Major League career. Clemente batted over .300 13 times in his career. He batted .317 with exactly 3,000 hits in his career, 240 home runs and 1,305 RBI. He was a 15-time All-Star, a 12-time Gold Glove winner, and a two-time World Series champion. He was the World Series MVP in 1971 and a four-time National League batting champion. Clemente passed away on Dec. 31, 1972 when a plane he chartered to bring relief supplies to Nicaragua following an earthquake crashed off Isla Verde, Puerto Rico. On March 20, 1973, the Baseball Writers Association of America held a special election for his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Since 1971, Major League Baseball has honored Clemente’s dedication to the sport with the Roberto Clemente Award, presented annually during the World Series to an outstanding player who is involved in community work.