MLB News, Schedule & Notes: 10 Players to Watch as 2015 MLB Opening Day Nears
Let's play ball!
Opening day for the 2015 Major League Baseball season is almost here. The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs open the season on Sunday, April 5, at 8:05 p.m. EST. More than 28 percent of all MLB players today are Latino, according to league demographic reports.
With that being said, there are numerous Latin American players thriving in today's game across the league.
Here are 10 Latin American MLB players you should keep an eye on this season:
1. Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic)
Nelson Cruz will be playing for his third team in the last three seasons. After hitting an MLB-leading 40 home runs last season with the Baltimore Orioles, Cruz decided to join the Seattle Mariners on a new four-year contract. The Mariners haven't made the playoffs since their incredible 116-win season back in 2001, but they did have 87 wins last season. You can bet Cruz will have the Mariners in the running in the American League West with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Oakland Athletics.
2. Yasiel Puig (Cuba)
You could make the case that Yasiel Puig is the most exciting player in all of baseball. One game he's making diving catches with an amazing triple, followed up by another game with head-scratching errors. The Los Angeles Dodgers need Puig to be more of a consistent player and improve on his .296 batting average from last season.
3. Pablo Sandoval (Venezuela)
After winning three World Series championships by the Bay with the San Francisco Giants, Pablo Sandoval now finds himself in Beantown with the Boston Red Sox. Sandoval is without a doubt one of the best postseason hitters in MLB history. In Boston, he'll be joining Dominican slugger David Ortiz and newcomer Hanley Ramirez, also of the Dominican Republic.
4. José Abreu (Cuba)
What a remarkably incredible season it was last year for Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu. The Cuban slugger smashed 36 home runs and had another 107 runs batted in last season. Fluke, one hit wonder, or a flash of future greatness? We'll soon find out. The White Sox haven't made the playoffs since 2008, and many expect Abreu to be in the running for the league-lead for home runs this season.
5. Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela)
Miguel Cabrera is arguably the best player in all of baseball. He hits for high averages, he hits the long ball, he gets on base, he's won two MVP awards, and he's a World Series champion. What more can you ask for? Cabrera has batted in 100 runs every year since 2004. Cabrera took the Tigers to the World Series in 2012, and they'll be right in the mix this year. Don't worry, we've got another great Venezuelan on the Tigers roster coming up on our list.
6. Michael Pineda (Dominican Republic)
The New York Yankees are entering a season in which there has been more doubt than most can remember. This Bronx Bombers squad will rely on pitching a lot more than what we've seen in the past. Michael Pineda has been impressive this spring training with a 1.42 ERA, and it's time to deliver. He'll definitely get his chance at 15 starts at minimum and a high pitch count this season.
7. Victor Martinez (Venezuela)
Victor Martinez (shown above) has been one of the most consistent players of the 21st century. The 36-year-old out of Venezuelan has batted at least .300 at the plate in eight of the last nine seasons. The Detroit Tigers are one of the favorites to win the American League pennant next season, and they will need Martinez's bat big time to succeed.
8. Hanley Ramirez (Dominican Republic)
The Red Sox are kind of a weird team. In the last three years they've missed the playoffs twice and won a World Series. Red Sox management has reloaded with Latino talented including shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who has a career .500 slugging percentage, and is a .300 hitter. The Red Sox will make a run at the American League East title this year because of Ramirez.
9. Johnny Cueto (Dominican Republic)
Maybe the most underrated pitcher in baseball today. Johnny Cueto has spent his entire seven year career with the Cincinnati Reds. Last season he led the National League in strikeouts, even more than Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. Cueto also led the entire NL in innings pitched last season.
10. Fernando Rodney and Felix Hernandez (Dominican Republic, Venezuela)
Yes. Both of them. The Seattle Mariners have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball thanks to this dynamic duo. Fernando Rodney led all of MLB with 48 saves last season while Felix Hernandez had an impressive 2.14 ERA. Hernandez can take care of business for the first six to eight innings, then Rodney can enter in relief and pick up the save. Tough to beat this combination.
Subscribe to Latin Post!
Sign up for our free newsletter for the Latest coverage!