It was a long time coming, but the Washington Nationals have finally called up Yadiel Hernández, the 218th Cuban to debut in MLB.
After 370 games and 1,269 at-bats in the minors, 32-year-old Yadiel Hernández finally got the call he was dreaming of his whole life. He was finally going to see action on the grand stage with the Washington Nationals.
The native of Matanzas, Cuba became the 218th Cuban to debut in big leagues when he entered last night’s game against the Braves in the ninth inning as a pinch-runner. Hernández also has the distinction of being the 29th player from the largest of the Antilles to see action in MLB this year.
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The player who is from a town called “Los Mangos” flashed his talents with the bat last year at Fresno (AAA) where he hit a robust .323 with 33 homers and 90 runs batted in 126 games. In his three seasons on the farm, he hit .301 with 63 bombs, 217 runs batted in, and a slash line of.385/.503/.887. Hernández also has scored 217 runs and drew 175 walks.
The outfielder was so heralded during his time in the Pacific Coast League that he made the Grizzlies all-time team, a squad that included Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and Buster Posey. Not only did he make Fresno’s all-time team but he was named the team’s MVP, as he at Harrisburg (AA) in 2017.
In the middle of the season, he received offers from Korea and Japan but they were blocked by the Washington Nationals surprisingly.
“At midseason, I received offers from Korea and Japan but I wasn’t allowed to field them. Aside from that I wasn’t called up, this really bothered me and tested my resolve. It also really tested my faith but I’m a warrior and decided to keep fighting. One always needs to think that the glass is half full and never half empty.”
The slugger made his presence felt in the Mexican Winter League by finishing second in hitting (.336) while going yard five times and was also in the top 5 with 43 RBI’s. If it wasn’t for the impressive season that his countrymen Dariel Álvarez had in that circuit he might have been the league’s Most Valuable Player.
But the highlight of his off-season wasn’t his stats but an encounter with a familiar face, Roel Santos his ex-teammate, on the Cuban National Team. “I was counting the days to Roel’s arrival,” Yadiel Hernández told us, “because in my time off the island I have never had another Cuban as a teammate.”
“In my organization,” Hernández continued, “I was the only Cuban on the farm before Roenis Elías arrived, but he never played in the minors. I played with Néstor Cortés in the DR with the Oriental Stars, but although he was born in Cuba he wasn’t raised there and did not play in the Serie Nacional. Playing with Roel again was something special.”
“We talked plenty about our days in Cuba. I gave Roel a few tips about certain things that are unwritten rules in the professional game.”
Although Yadiel’s trajectory to “The Show” might have been a peculiar one it was earned and well deserved.
I was able to interview the slugger with Yordano Carmona and this is the rest of this interesting interview.