Monday, March 20, 2006

Cuba in the WBC and defections

From the LA Times:

Rookie Kendry Morales, who defected from Cuba two years ago, said he would be rooting for Cuba in tonight's WBC championship.

"When you win in Cuba, you feel everybody, the whole country, how much they support you," he said. "They're not professionals, you have to remember. It's amateur baseball. We all feel very proud.

"I'm going to celebrate. I'm not there any more, but I know how it feels. They're my friends."

Morales declined to comment when asked whether he believed any Cuban players might try to defect. He cited second baseman Yulieski Gourriel and pitcher Pedro Lazo among a handful of Cubans he considers to have major league ability.

"There are some quality players, but very few could play here," Morales said.

I've been looking for something in this defection story for a while and haven't found a thing, which sucks. Since the US lost there has been a huge deal made out of how the rest of the world has "caught up" to the US in terms of playing ability. And the consensus was that a good amount of the Cuban players had the ability to play in the big leagues. That was probably overstimated, but this insider's view from Kendry Morales is interesting. He's been there and he knows what the US baseball talent-pool is like (even though he's only played in the minors). He's a big-time prospect for the Angels and his opinion, while may have some politics behind it, seems genuine, especially since he's speaking of his country and his teammates with such praise.

He reminds us that they are amateurs, not pros, and that makes a big difference.


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