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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

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Trump Put A Stop To The MLB And Cuban Baseball Federation Deal And Here's Why It Matters

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Trump Put A Stop To The MLB And Cuban Baseball Federation Deal And Here’s Why It Matters

The Trump administration on Monday canceled a deal that would have made it easier for Cuban baseball players to compete professionally in the U.S. The nixed deal is a reversal of a policy from former President Obama’s administration created to soften relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The Trump administration saw different as they argued that the sport’s governing body is part of the Cuban government and the deal would have violated U.S. trade law. The deal, which would have run through October 2021, allowed Cuban players to sign with teams under similar rules as other international players from Japan and South Korea.

Players who were over 25 years old would be free to sign with organizations that paid a “release fee” to a Cuban baseball club.

The U.S. economic embargo on Cuba currently denies Americans from doing business with Cuba’s government. The Obama administration’s ruling had cleared a pathway for an agreement between Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation reached late last year.

The deal was designed to allow Cuban baseball players to join U.S. baseball teams without having to defect, which was standard in previous years.
The Obama administration hoped that the policy would create a system where Cuban players would no longer have to defect from the Cuban government, which commonly involved dangerous journeys at the hands of human smugglers.

“Establishing a safe, legal process for entry to our system is the most important step we can take to ending the exploitation and endangerment of Cuban players who pursue careers in Major League Baseball,” Tony Clark, executive director for the MLB players’ union in a statement back in December.

Just last week the Cuban federation released its first group of players able to sign contracts with MLB organizations, and some were expected to be playing in the U.S. this year.

Cuba has produced some of MLB’s biggest stars. Many of them defected on their own and faced deadly circumstances to make it here.

Among the most notable recent players that have defected from Cuba are
Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes. All have had well documented stories of their defections from Cuba and the perilous journeys they took to get to the U.S.

MLB sent a letter to the Treasury and State Departments, outlining the purpose of its agreement and the stories of players that have defected. MLB even requested a meeting with government officials, though no meeting was ever granted.

The cancelled deal has gotten criticism from the Cuban Baseball Federation and advocates who say Cuban players will be further placed in danger.

Many in the baseball community see the canceled deal as a major blow to incoming talent and puts more players at risk. MLB said on Monday that their primary goal is to “end the human trafficking of baseball players from Cuba.”

The Cuban Baseball Federation spoke out on Twitter about the disappointment of the reversed policy. They said the “politically motivated attacks on the deal hurt players, their families, and fans.”

The canceled policy is also a political win Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who fought the deal between MLB and the Cuban Baseball Federation. Rubio challenged the policy saying it was in the benefit of the Cuban government rather then in the interest of the baseball players.

“The reason Cuban baseball players have to escape & seek asylum to play in America is not U.S. law or policy The reason is the Cuban govt won’t let them leave to play here,” Rubio said on Twitter.

What’s next for Cuban baseball players that want to play for MLB?

Without a policy in place, Cuban players may have to return to defection which could continue the dangerous trend of smuggling. Overall, this is a huge blow to Cuban players and an even bigger one to the game of baseball.

One of the players who defected from Cuba is New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman. Chapman, who spoke with media on Monday, said the news is a blow to the many young aspiring Cuban players who want to come to MLB.

“It is definitely a sensitive topic, so many things behind it. Anytime you are talking about baseball and politics, it’s a very sensitive subject. But, I just feel bad for those young ball players, who are probably not going to have the same chance to play here,” Chapman said through Yankees’ interpreter Marlin Abreu. “It’s definitely difficult for a lot of Cuban players playing at this level here in the States. The way we got here was, it was tough, to say the least.

One thing is for sure, the cancelled policy would have created more opportunities for younger players and allowed them to avoid the dangerous and costly process of defecting. This now leaves many players in Cuba searching for answers on how to move forward with their major league aspirations.

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