WBC participation-unauthorized departure-exile-contract termination ‘Great reversal’ 161km Cuban express ML dream seen ‘US local interest explodes’
Interest in Cuban pitcher Yariel Rodriguez, 26, who chose to seek asylum in the United States rather than return to Japan following his participation in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC)먹튀검증, seems to be heating up in the United States.
Francis Romero, a reporter for the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), reported on his X (formerly Twitter) that “10 major league teams are interested.”
According to Romero, Rodriguez pitched three innings in the tryout and threw a 94-97 mph (151-156 km/h) four-seam fastball. He also threw a curveball and slider, and his high-speed split topped out at 89 mph (143 km/h).
“He was consistent with his fastball and changeup, and all of his pitches had above-average velocity,” Romero wrote. He is scheduled to pitch again in front of major league scouts on the 25th (local time).”
Rodriguez has been playing for the Junichi Dragons since the 2020 season.
After struggling through the 2021 season, Rodriguez turned things around in 2022 after a bullpen transformation. In 56 games, Rodriguez went 6-2 with a 1.15 ERA in 5⅔ innings pitched and 39 holds, earning him the Central League’s top bullpen award. His fastball topped out at over 160 mph.
After the season, he signed a two-year contract with Junichi.
His performance didn’t hurt his chances of making the national team. He represented Cuba at the WBC in March.
The problem came after the tournament. Cuba reached the quarterfinals, which were held in Miami, USA. They lost to the United States in the semifinals 2-14 and failed to reach the final.
After the tournament, Rodriguez was supposed to return to Japan, but he didn’t enter the country. It was an unauthorized departure.
It turned out he hadn’t returned to Japan to seek asylum in the United States.
Junichi terminated his contract, and Rodriguez sat out the entire season.
Rodriguez is now living in the Dominican Republic, where he hopes to make his debut in a major league showcase.
Interest from the United States seems to be high. It was previously reported that 30 major league teams were in attendance to watch Rodriguez pitch.
Will Rodriguez be able to fulfill his dream of playing in the major leagues?