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21 Latino Baseball Players That Are Poised To Make An Impact This Season

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Spring time is here which means more sun and the start of the a new baseball season. Bring out the baseball cap, the crazy stadium food and the sunscreen for all those hours sitting in the bleachers. With all the excitement of a new season also brings a bevy of storylines and players to watch for this year. Many of those include Latinos players, who are poised to make a big impact this upcoming season. Here’s a look at some of the brightest and biggest Latino stars who are sure to be on your radar in 2019.

1. Yasiel Puig

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With a trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds over the winter, Yasiel Puig is one of the most interesting storylines coming into this year. The Cuban sensation was a lightning bolt full of energy for six seasons in LA but will now have to prove himself with the Reds. All we know is that if Puig comes with that same energy he should be all right.

2.Gleyber Torres

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As a rookie with the New York Yankees, Torres made quite an impact with 24 home runs. The Yankees will look too Torres to repeat that same power stroke as they chase a return to the playoffs.

3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr

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Few rookies have as much hype coming into 2019 like Vladimir Guerrero Jr do. The Dominican born third baseman is the son of Hall-Of-Famer Vladimir Guerrero so the expectations are high. If the Toronto Blue Jays want to be relevant this season, Guerrero will be a big part of that success.

4. Gary Sanchez

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Gary Sanchez is easily one of the best hitting catchers in all of baseball and the Yankees will be counting on that bat this season. The Dominican catcher has averaged 23 home runs the last three seasons and was a big part of the Yankees success last season. We are sure to hear about Sanchez this year as he triers to help the Yankess win the AL East title.

5. Kenley Jansen

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After undergoing heart surgery in the off-season, Kenley Jensen is expected to have a comeback year. The Dodgers closer struggled at times last season and wasn’t as dependable as in previous years. The Curaçaoan flamethrower has been one of the best closers the last few years and is sure to make a return to form this year.

6. Jose Abreu

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2018 was the first time in Jose Abreu’s career that he hit lower than .290 and hit only 22 home runs. Those were all career lows for the Chicago White Sox first baseman. The Cuban native has been one of best sluggers in baseball since his debut in 2014 and the White Sox will be looking for him to bounce back.

7. Aroldis Chapman

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Aroldis Chapman is known for his 100 MPH fastball and his shutdown changeup. Last year was arguably one of his best seasons and was a key part of why the Yankees made the playoffs. There’s no doubt Chapman will be bringing the heat again this year.

8. Edwin Diaz

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After leading the major leagues with 57 saves, the Seattle Mariners promptly traded Edwin Diaz to the New York Mets. Diaz had a breakout year last season and will be expected to be a difference maker in New York.

9. Juan Soto

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Juan Soto burst onto the scene last year for the Washington Nationals and never looked back. He hit 22 home runs and was one of the top rookies in baseball after his debut in May. From the looks of it, Soto is just getting started.

10.Carlos Correa

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After an injury-plagued season, Carlos Correa is looking to rebound and get back to his MVP form from 2017. The Puerto Rican native has all the tools of a great shortstop as well as a great ambassador for the game of baseball. The Houston Astros are expecting big things from Correa this season.

11. Luis Severino

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Luis Severino is the anchor of the New York Yankees starting rotation and is poised lead it for years to come. Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Severino has a lights out sliders and an even more effective changeup. He’s a must watch this season and a pitcher you should fear facing.

12. Ronald Acuna Jr

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Ronald Acuna Jr won the Rookie of the Year award last season and there’s no doubt the 21-year-old outfielder is going to be a force again. The Atlanta Braves have a loaded young team and Acuna will the be the one trying to lead them into the playoffs again.

13. Manny Machado

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Manny Machado made headlines this past off-season when he signed a 10-year $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres. Machado instantly makes the Padres contenders in the NL West and will be expected to put up huge numbers. He’s been on of the most consistent power hitters in baseball since his debut in 2012 and will surely make some noise this year.

14. Jose Ramirez

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Jose Ramirez led the Cleveland Indians to the postseason for the third straight season due to his breakout bat. Ramirez, who hails from the Dominican Republic, is predicted to be in the MVP conversation this year.

15.Jose Altuve

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He might be small in stature but his bat says otherwise. Jose Altuve started 2018 strong but struggled towards the end. The former AL MVP should have no trouble working his way back up. Many are predicating the Houston Astros to go back to the World Series and Altuve will have to be a big part of that success.

16. Francisco Lindor

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The Puerto Rican native is arguably one of the best shortstops in baseball. Lindor brings great defense to the position that few can match and a bat that produced 38 home runs last season. We are expecting an encore performance for the young promising shortstop.

17. Javier Baez

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A key member of the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez shows no signs of regressing. Baez is heart and soul of the Cubs lineup and will be a key player in 2019. He had one of his best seasons in 2018 with his bat and was in the top-five of MVP voting for his strong season.

18. Marcell Ozuna

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Traded from the Miami Marlins to the St. Louis Cardinals last offseason, Marcell Ozuna welcomed himself to his new club with 23 home runs. The power hitting outfielder is one of the more underrated players in the game.

19. Robinson Cano

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After spending the last five seasons with the Seattle Mariners, Robinson Cano has a new home in New York. This also means high expectations for the all-star second baseman who has hit consistently throughout his 14-year career. Cano, who was born in San Pedro de Macoris, is going to be a must-watch this season as he tries to push the Mets to the playoffs.

20. Julio Urias

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They used to call him “the teenager’ due to his young age, but now 22, Julio Urias is ready to make his name with the LA Dodgers. Hailing from Culiacan, Mexico, Urias represents his country with pride and shows that emotion on the field. Don’t be surprised if you hear his name again this season.

21. Roberto Osuna

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From Sinaloa, Mexico, Roberto Osuna is one of baseball’s best relief pitchers. Coming off a season marked with controversy due to a domestic abuse suspension, Osuna will try to make a comeback on and off the field.

READ: Mexican And American Fans Came Together For A Weekend Of Baseball And Celebration In Mexico

This MLB Team Just Swore In 15 New American Citizens And Our Hearts Are Overflowing With Emotion

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This MLB Team Just Swore In 15 New American Citizens And Our Hearts Are Overflowing With Emotion

Screen capture. CBS News.

As the 2020 presidential election draws near, every public act that involves issues of citizenship and migration becomes a political statement (perhaps involuntarily, but a statement nevertheless). That is why having a civic act involving issues of immigration in front of a stadium full of baseball fans is a super relevant ideological statement. Last weekend, at Citizen Bank Park in Philly, a few individuals had one of the most significant days of their lives. 

Fifteen new American citizens were sworn in before the Phillies-Red Sox game last Sunday.

Credit: Screen capture. CBS News.

Yes, 15 new American citizens of all kinds of origins were cheered as they waved flags and swore their allegiance to the United States. The new citizens, of all kinds of backgrounds, are a true snapshot of multicultural America, a representation that goes counter to the Trump Era vision of exclusivity and privilege.

As reported by CBS News, MLB has become an advocate for this kind of ceremonies: “Fifteen new Philadelphia-area residents from 11 different countries were sworn in as U.S. citizens Sunday at the game. The newly minted U.S. citizens are among the over 700 new citizens who have been naturalized at 11 professional ballparks this summer”. By the way, the Phillies lost 6-3 to Boston, but the evening had a celebratory vibe, of course!

And what could be more American than becoming a citizen in Philadelphia, right?

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous. 

After all, the United States Constitution was signed by the Founding Fathers there, right? What a moment it must have been for the 15 new citizens, some of whom surely had perilous migration paths, when they heard: “”Congratulation, you are now citizens of the United States of America. You now share the same rights, the same privilege, the same obligations as any citizen of this great country”. And to be honest, there are few things as American as a day at the ballpark. 

And let’s remember that Pennsylvania was all red after the 2016 presidential election, so statements like this are increasingly important for those who wish Trump to be kicked out of office.

Credit: Wikipedia

Just look at that red tide. Pennsylvania is heavily reliant on manufacturing industries that have been hit hard by global trade and the move of American companies overseas. The steel manufacturing industry, for instance, has lived under extreme duress for decades. This is perhaps why Trump’s message resonated with disgruntled workers. The state has large numbers of Latino presence, mainly Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. So statements of civil inclusion such as the citizenship ceremony at the stadium could send a message: we are all the same, we all deserve a shot, we are all equal. 

All it takes is a good hearted judge with a love for baseball.

Credit: Twitter. @PhillyInquirer

The ceremony was performed by Juan R. Sanchez, a judge of Puerto Rican origin who understood what multiculturalism really means on a personal level when baseball made him feel part of the community. He told CBS News: “We hope we remind people of the tremendous privileges we have under the constitution. And remind people that we have a responsibility to be engaged.” Preach, querido juez Sanchez. 

Last year the ceremony had 19 new Americans, so the trend is continuing that is just una chingonería.

Credit: Twitter. @GraceMarioano

The trend is constant now. Last year 19 new Americans were welcome at a Phillies game. By the way, those red hats are Phillies cachuchas, so don’t be alarmed!

But the trend goes back to the early 2010s, as reported by the Portland Press Herald. In 2012, before a Minor League game more than two dozen children were welcome as United States citizens: “The children were part of a pre-game ceremony that celebrated their new citizenship at Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs. The children, from Congo, Germany, the Philippines and Somalia, were presented certificates recognizing their citizenship, derived from their naturalized parents or adoption. After the ceremony was held between home plate and the backstop, the children and their families stayed for the Sea Dogs’ game with the Reading Phillies. The children held a giant American flag during the playing of the national anthem”.

Becoming a citizen of a foreign country is a big step in anyone’s life, particularly if they flee perilous circumstances at home, so having a whole stadium cheer you must be quite something!

Citizenship  ceremonies at Phillies’ games have a dual purpose: make new Americans feel welcome and educating the public.

Credit: Twitter. @SU2Citizenship

The best way to make a statement is a lived experience. The thousands of fans that have been overcome by emotion as new Americans are welcomed can see, and feel, how great cultural diversity is. This photo is from a ceremony in 2015. 

We are Los Dodgers fans, but the Philadelphia Phillies will always have a special place in our hearts.

Credit: Facebook. Philadelphia Phillies. 

As Angelenos and Latinos we remain loyal to our Dodgers, but we gotta admit that the Phillies are growing on us thanks to their approach. They make citizenship ceremonies a community affair 

There Is Still A Lot Of Mystery About The First-Ever Latino To Play In The MLB

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There Is Still A Lot Of Mystery About The First-Ever Latino To Play In The MLB

Public Domain

When it comes to crossing racial barriers in baseball, Jackie Robinson is the first name that comes to mind for many. However, before there was Robinson, there was Luis “Lou” Manuel Castro, the first Latino player in baseball’s modern era and the first to play in Major League Baseball. While his name might not be in the same regard or even known to many like Robinson, Castro earned the important distinction.

But unlike Robinson, Castro’s playing career was short, only lasting 42 games for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1902 season where he batted for a .245 average. This might be why Castro isn’t as highly regarded or well known as the baseball Hall of Famer who broke baseball’s color line in 1947.

There might be another reason the name Lou Castro isn’t a household name. There are conflicting reports on where he was actually born.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

There is some mystery when it comes to the legacy of Castro that many point to where he was really born. There are some reports that say Castro listed New York City as his birthplace later in his place but it’s widely agreed that he was born in 1876 in Medellin, Colombia. Castro would only stay in Colombia for eight years as his family and he would move to the U.S. due to the country’s political instability during that period. Castro’s family traveled by boat to the U.S. where they arrived in New York. 

According to Nick Martinez, a baseball historian who studied Castro’s life, a list of passengers he researched shows that an 8-year-old Castro was indeed on the S.S. Colon, which arrived in New York City on October 16, 1885, supporting the case that he did arrive from Colombia.

During his teen years, Castro would pick up baseball and by the age of 17 years old, he joined the Manhattan College baseball team. He was known to have quite the sense of humor among teammates and garnered the nickname “Judge.” He’d continue his playing career across multiple minor league clubs before getting his big break at the major leagues. Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack got a good look at Castro and offered him a try-out that resulted in him joining the Philadelphia Athletics.

While his run as a major league player was short with the Athletics, Castro still made enough of an impact to say he contributed to the club clinching the 1902 American League pennant. According to Remezcla, the rookie was invited to be a part of the team’s year-end banquet where gave an acceptance speech on behalf of some fellow teammate. The celebration even resulted in him singing some songs in Spanish. 

There is also the highly debated theory that Castro was somehow related to Venezuelan President Cipriano Castro. 

Credit: Public Domain

The theories don’t just stop with this birthplace, Castro has been linked to being related to Venezuelan President Cipriano Castro. He has both claimed and denied being related to the infamous dictator. It was known that Castro frequently claimed to have been either the nephew or cousin (or even son) of Castro, who had prior family and business connections back in Castro’s home country of Colombia. 

The legacy of Lou Castro might be a bit complicated but he led the way for other Latino ballplayers to break into the big leagues. 

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

While his playing days were short, Castro’s baseball life continued as he became the first Latino to “manage a club in Organized Baseball” after he retired as a player. Castro would eventually die in New York at the age of 64 on Sept. 24, 1941. 

While Castro’s career didn’t immediately lead to a burst of Latin players making their way to the big leagues, it would be another decade before Latino players started to make an impact on the field, he still paved a way for many Latinos to follow. 

Iconic Latin stars like Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants respectively, would rise to fame in the late ’50s. In 2018, the number of Latino MLB players hit 31.9 percent, the highest in 20 years. The number is a testament to the ever-growing popularity of the game in Latin countries and the door that Castro opened back in 1902.  

While his story might not be as well know as other baseball players, Lou Castro does have his place in history. 

Specifically, Latino history. 

READ: This Victory Makes Christian Villanueva The Fifth Mexican Baseball Player In MLB Ever To Hit Three Home Runs In A Single Game