HarbourCats add first Cuban players in WCL history Cuban team to play at Royal Athletic Park on July 30, also a first
Christian J. Stewart
Victoria HarbourCats are pleased to announce two major pieces of news involving Cuba -- a team, and two pitchers.
The HarbourCats will play an international-flavour exhibition game on Monday, July 30 (6:35 pm), against Union de Reyes, an amateur team managed by former Cuban National Team catcher Saul Basallo Armas, with coaches Lazaro Apolinario Santana and Jose Luis Munoz Pichardo, also former Cuban Nacionale Series players.
All the players on the Union de Reyes team, which will be touring Vancouver Island and hosted by the Chemainus and District Baseball Association, are under 23 years of age, and have mostly played together for five years under the Matanzas Baseball Association. The team entered the recent playoffs in first place.
They are players and students at Universidad de ciencias de la cultura Fisica y el deporte de Matanzas (translated, University of Physical Sciences and Sports Culture of Matanzas), located near popular vacation spot Veradero.
"First, we want to say a huge thank you to Rick and April Shay, and all the people from the Chemainus and District Baseball Association who have developed such a strong relationship with Union de Reyes," said Jim Swanson, Managing Partner of the HarbourCats, who himself has a long history working with the FCBA (Cuban Baseball Association). "Many members of this team will be making their second visit to our great Island, and this team will be a great test for our roster. A lot of effort and time has gone into making this happen."
The HarbourCats will have two of the players from Union de Reyes on the roster from the start of the season -- 20-year-old pitchers Alejandro Ortega Lopez, and Adriel Quesada Pena. Ortega is 6-3/198, and Quesada is 5-11/165, and both throw in the mid-to-upper 80s.
"We're excited to add Alejandro and Adriel, and let them show us how passionate Cubans are to play baseball, especially at a level like the West Coast League -- this will be good for everyone involved," said Swanson. "Their visas allow them to be here for the full season, and we're sure our fans will be eager to see them pitch."
This is not the first foray into the international player pool for the HarbourCats -- including last season, when Bahamian pitcher Chavez Fernander and Taiwan infielder Po-Hao Huang ('Bernie') were part of the North Division champions. For the 2018 season, the team will have four players from Taiwan, and these two Cuban pitchers.
About The Victoria HarbourCats
The HarbourCats are Victoria's entry in the West Coast League (WCL), a summer, collegiate, wood bat baseball league, featuring the top college-age players from across North America and the
world. One of the elite teams in the league, the HarbourCats won a record 40 games in 2016 and followed that up in 2017 as the WCL's North Division Playoff Champions, coming one game short of their first-ever WCL Championship. In 2018, their sixth season, the team will play a 54-game regular season schedule, with 27 of those games and eight additional non-league games, being played at historic Royal Athletic Park in Victoria. Opening night is June 1, 2018 with games scheduled through mid-August. See www.harbourcats.com for more details.
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