The oldest living ex-major leaguer is a Cuban by the name of Conrado Marrero.
Marrero, a 5-foot-5 pitcher who played for the Washington Senators from 1950-54, turned 101 on Wednesday, and Paul Haven of the Associated Press was in Havana to document the occasion.
Click here to read the story, but here are some highlights:
- Marrero is older than Fenway Park.
- One of his favorite moments was beating the Yankees, yet he says his Senators were “lazy” and error prone.
- He’s met Babe Ruth, Connie Mack and Dwight Eisenhower.
- He retired from the majors and returned to play in the Cuban minor leagues, all before Fidel Castro came into power.
- He doesn’t follow the majors much anymore, but is aware of Jamie Moyer’s comeback (what a whippersnapper!) and Yoenis Cespedes’ exploits.
- He once had this exchange with Ted Williams: “One day Williams got two home runs off me, and afterward he came up to me and said `Sorry, it was my day today,” Marrero recalled. “I responded, `Ted, every day is your day.”‘
How fun it would be to sit down with Marrero and just let him tell stories all day.
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In early June the Rays signed Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz to a minor-league contract that included a unique stipulation where they had to decide by mid-November whether to give him a four-year, $4 million deal or let him go.
At the time of the initial signing Ruiz was viewed as a solid prospect and potential replacement for free agent Carlos Pena at first base, but today the Rays declined their option and released the 26-year-old.
Ruiz is 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, hit just .272 with one homer and a .706 OPS in 23 games at Double-A despite being old for the level of competition
Last week 17-year-old Cuban center fielder Yasiel Balaguer defected to Nicaragua and immediately got himself an agent with eye toward becoming a free agent and signing with an MLB team.
An article about the news in the El Nuevo Herald included all sorts of glowing words about his upside, including the usual praise from his agent, but John Manuel of Baseball America has since talked to some actual scouts about Balaguer’s long-term potential and their reports aren’t quite as positive.
Here’s an excerpt from Manuel’s article on Balaguer:
According to two scouting reports obtained by Baseball America, scouts who saw Balaguer in Thunder Bay during the World Junior Championships in August weren’t blown away. Instead, they rated Balaguer as a player with average tools across the board with one important below-average tool–his bat.
Both reports characterize Balaguer, who bats and throws right-handed, as physical at about 6-foot, 190 pounds, and the descriptions hint at a lack of projection in his body. Both reports project Balaguer as a corner outfielder due to fringe-average speed, and both characterize his throwing arm as average. Neither offers praise for his hitting ability, with one citing a “long swing” and both reporting difficulty handling velocity.
Quite a bit different than the El Nuevo Herald article that called him “a natural leadoff batter and an explosive baserunner” who “is an extraordinary defensive player.”
Balaguer is legitimate prospect, but it sounds like he won’t come close to getting the $8.25 million shortstop Jose Iglesias received from the Red Sox or $7 million left-hander Noel Arguelles received from the Royals after defecting from Cuba last year.
Yasiel Balaguer, a 17-year-old center fielder considered one of the top prospects in Cuba, has defected to Nicaragua in order to become a free agent and sign with an MLB team, according to Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald.
Ebro reports that Balaguer is now being represented by the Miami Sports agency and calls him “a natural leadoff batter and an explosive baserunner” who “is an extraordinary defensive player because of his arm.”
Baseball America‘s reports on Balaguer are far less glowing, but he’s definitely viewed as a legitimate prospect.
Jose Iglesias and Noel Arguelles defected from Cuba as teenagers last year, with Iglesias joining the Red Sox for $8.25 million and Arguelles getting $7 million from the Royals.