The Victoria HarbourCats of the West Coast League recently made two major announcements involving Cuba; an exciting addition to their home schedule and the signing of two International pitchers.
The HarbourCats will host an international-flavored exhibition game on Monday, July 30 (6:35pm), 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 its roster from the start of the season — 20-year-old pitchers Alejandro Ortega Lopez, and Adriel Quesada Pena (pictured, thumbs up). 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 two Cuban pitchers.
In other West Coast League news, the Walla Walla Sweets signed their first ever Taiwanese player. For more info, click here.
ABOUT THE WEST COAST LEAGUE
The West Coast League (WCL) is the premier summer collegiate baseball league west of the Mississippi. The 14-year-old, 11-team, professionally operated wood-bat league located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest showcases pro prospects from major conferences across the nation June through August. Out west, the league features an unparalleled history of memorable fan and player experiences and the best summer weather in North America. 83 players with WCL experience were selected in the MLB 2017 June draft. 271 WCL alums appeared or were active in affiliated professional baseball in 2017 including 31 in the major leagues, such as 2015 home-run leader Chris Davis (Baltimore); record-breaking rookie slugger Rhys Hoskins (Philadelphia); rising star pitchers James Paxton (Seattle) and Matt Boyd (Detroit); and outfielder Mitch Haniger (Seattle). Overall member attendance was 412,392 this past summer, an increase of 8.6% in total attendance.