Chronicling the impressive journey of Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Guillermo “The Count” Heredia from Mantanzas, Cuba all the way to the Majors.
Fans in Cuba had been aware of Heredia’s immense talent for years. But with one enormous run-saving catch he put the world on notice of his talents.
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That night “The Count” (as he is known by the island’s faithful) rescued starter Ismael Jimenez from a jam and even managed to drive in Cuba’s to victory.
“I remember that catch like it was yesterday. I would love to one day dawn the jersey with the four letters again.”
The native of Matanzas signed with the Seattle Mariners as a 25-year-old in 2016 and made it all the way to the majors that same year. In 45 games, he hit .250 with one homer and 12 runs batted in.
Becoming a more rounded player
With his defensive prowess, Heredia drew plenty of attention before signing, but he needed to work on his offensive game to stick around the big leagues.
In 2017, Heredia struggled at the plate before injuries cost him a starting spot in the Seattle outfield to Ben Gamel. Heredia only hit .249 that year with 24 RBI 123 games.
Knowing that his bat needed to improve, Heredia went home to Miami to work with renown hitting guru Ricardo Sosa. While in South Florida he also rehabbed a surgically-repaired shoulder and got healthy while improving his swing.
“Ricardo Sosa worked with me in the off-season on fine-tuning my swing. “He also worked on my mechanics and helped close all the holes in my swing. My goal for the  season was to have a great season at the plate and in the field, and also to help the team win in any way possible.”
The work continued
All of the hard work didn’t pay immediate dividends for Heredia, who had a tough spring camp and found himself in the minors to open the 2018 season. He was recalled in late-April, however, and he started to hit better.
Unfortunately, injuries led to slumps again and Heredia finished 2018 with similar numbers to his disappointing 2017 campaign.
However, a strong September gave him confidence that the hard work was starting to pay off. Heredia hit .411 with one home run and five runs driven in September.
Welcome to Tampa
Heredia began 2019 with great hope and he started but started off cold hitting .091 in April, but in May he caught fire hitting .306.
But as in other years, he had an uneven year and was relegated to being a fourth outfielder or a defensive replacement.
He finished the year hitting a lowly .225 and was non-tendered at year’s end by Tampa thereby becoming a free agent.
The Steel City, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates
During the off-season, the Cuban signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates and figures at worse to be their fourth outfielder based on the fact he can play all three positions in the outfield.
If he hits it will be a plus for the Bucs. His main focus will be to make up for the loss of Starling Marte via trade to Arizona, especially on the defensive end in center-field.
Although his signing was one that wasn’t widely celebrated it will definitely fill a big hole in the Pirate’s outfield and could pay dividends.
Heredia who is an avid fan of the Matanzas Crocodiles was elated to see his team win the Cuban Series title for the first time in the 2019-20 season.
Heredia still keeps up with the Cuban National Series and his beloved Crocodiles. Like many of his fellow countrymen, he dreams of one day returning to his homeland and playing in the league that saw him come up.
“I still follow the series and am up to date on my Crocodiles, it would be an honor to one day wear the yellow and red again because that’s from where I came.”
Could we see Heredia in the white, red and yellow of Matanzas one day? That is something that all Cubans one day hope to see.
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