Ariel Martinez made history during his one plate appearance for the Chunichi Dragons as he became the 33rd Cuban player in NPB history.
Although he struck in his only at bat last night in the Chunichi Dragons loss to the Yomiuri Giants by the count of 5-0, Ariel Martinez became the 33rd Cuban to grace the field in the land of the rising sun. The catcher was signed by the Chunichi Dragons and inserted into their development program in March of 2018.
After having two nondescript seasons in the minors,
the 24 year old looked like a different man in this year’s minor league camp hitting .550 and smashing three longballs. Martínez finally looks like he’s reaching the potential Chunichi saw in him when they signed him.
He also opened up the regular season with the team’s farm club hitting .571, this performance alone earned him a call up with the big club two days ago. Wearing number 57 he becomes the third Cuban on the Dragon’s roster, reliever Raidel Martínez (no relation) and Dayán Viciedo are the others.
Martínez has now positioned himself to not only be the catcher of the future for the Chunichi Dragons but also for the Cuban National Team. The slugging catcher has been compared to his namesake Ariel Pestano after he worked on his defense all off-season.
Here I leave you the list of all the Cubans who have played in the NPB:
1: Roberto “Chico” Barbón SS 1955-1965
2: Humberto “Chico” Fernández SS 1965
3: Román Mejías OF 1966
4: Tony González OF 1972
5: Zoilo Versalles SS 1972
6: Orestes Destrade1B 1989-1992, 1995
7: Omar Linares 3B 2002-2004
8: Juan Carlos Muñiz OF 2010
9: Michel Abreu 1B-DH 2013-2014
10: Leslie Anderson OF 2014-2016
11: Yuniesky Betancourt INF 2014
12: Bárbaro Cañizares INF 2014-2016
13 :Frederich Cepeda OF 2014-2015
14: Alfredo Despaigne OF-DH 2014-2019
15: Yulieski Gurriel INF 2014
16 Juan Miranda 1B-DH 2014
17: Yoslán Herrera RHP 2015
18: Héctor Mendoza RHP 2015-2016
19: Raúl Valdés LHP 2015-2017
20:José Adolis García OF 2016
21: Félix Pérez OF 2016
22: Dayán Viciedo INF 2016-2020
23: Yadir Drake OF 2017
24: Alex Guerrero INF 2017-2019
25: Liván Moinelo LHP 2017-2020
26: Roel Santos OF 2017
27: Onelki García LHP 2018-2020
28: Yurisbel Gracial INF 2018-2020
29: Raidel Martínez RHP 2018-2020
30: Ariel Miranda LHP 2018-2019
31: Óscar Luis Colás OF 2019
32: Leonys Martín OF 2019-2020
33: Ariel Martínez C 2020