by Ray Otero
November 16, 2008
Teams Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus for the 48th National Series were unveiled yesterday afternoon.
Star catcher Ariel Pestano was one of the 27 players selected on Friday for team Villa Clara for the upcoming 48th Cuban National Series.
Villa Clara (Eastern Zone)
Eduardo Martín, pictured here wearing a Las Villas uniform from the old Selective Series, managed Villa Clara to its first Cuban National Championship at the 1982-1983 season, XXII National Series.
National Titles: 4 (22 NS – 1982-1983; 32 NS -1992-1993; 33 NS – 1993-1994; 34 NS – 1994-1995)
47 NS Record: 55-33 (1st Place - Group C)
2008 Postseason: 5-6 (3rd Place)
Two players from the team that won the second place during the Beijing Olympic Games were named, shortstop Eduardo Paret and the previously mentioned Pestano. While a new manager, Eduardo Martín Saura, replacing controversial Víctor Mesa, was named.
Villa Clara has won four Cuban championships in the last 30 years and in the past 47th NS ended in the third place. Eduardo Martín was the manager that conducted Villa Clara to its first Cuban National Series title back on 1983 during the XXII National Series and is hoping to repeat his performance this season.
The roster included a total of 12 pitchers and in addition to them, Martín and his staff selected three catchers, seven infielders and five outfielders.
Three players from the official roster are also importants for this season. First baseman Ariel Borrero, participant in the I WBC, young prospect Leonys Martín, second in average during the 47th National Series with .398 and outfielder Andy Zamora who hit .350 last season, are expected to be in the regular lineup.
Villa Clara's starting rotation will include a mix of veteran and young arms that will help manager Martín achieve his goals. The names of Luis Borroto, Yuliet López, Robelio Carrillo, Juan Y. Serrano and Freddy Asiel Alvarez, not specifically in that order, will be Villa Clara's aces for the season. Borroto and Carrillo are trying to come back from lesions and disappointed years but if they stay healthy they could be a threat to other teams.
Closer Yolexis Ulacia will continue his stellar role in the team.
TEAM VILLA CLARA
Catchers: Ariel Pestano, Yulexis La Rosa and Julio César Ramírez.
Infielders: Ariel Borrero, Eduardo Paret, Andy Sarduy, Yeniet Pérez, Aleimi Díaz, Dennis García and Yandy Canto.
Outfielders: Leonys Martín, Andy Zamora, Yorkis La Rosa, Yuniet Flores and Néstor Felipe Valdés.
Pitchers: Luis Borroto, Yuliet López, Yolexis Ulacia, Robelio Carrillo, Juan Yasser Serrano, Freddy Asiel Álvarez, Misael Siverio, Yoandry Ruiz, Yosvani Pérez, Jorge Félix Molina, Yoandry Barrios and Yasmani Junquera.
Manager: Eduardo Martín Saura. Assistants: Luis Jova and Ernesto Ruiz. Trainers: Amado Zamora, Rodney Aguilar and Alain Sánchez.
Villa Clara will debut on December 2 in front of his crowd at Augusto César Sandino Stadium facing team Matanzas from the Western Zone of Cuba.
Sancti Spíritus (Western Zone)
National Titles: 1 (18 NS – 1978-1979)
47 NS Record: 48-40 (3rd Place - Group B)
2008 Postseason: 6-4 (4th Place)
The Sancti Spíritus team was also unveiled on Friday afternoon. Sancti Spíritus expects to win a medal in the 48th National Series.
The team is a mix of experienced and young players who will try to equal Sancti Spíritus best performance in National Series when during the XVIII National Series (1978-1979 season) the team got the national title for first and only time in Cuban classics.
Camagüeyanos catcher, Yenier Bello, is one of the new additions to the Sancti Spíritus’ roster for the 48th National Series.
Most of the squad that won fourth place at last year's 47th National Series will be returning.
Of the 27 players planning to start on December 2, 12 are pitchers while the roster is completed with three catchers, seven infielders and five outfielders.
The reason for the optimism in winning a medal is a power-hitting lineup and an improved pitching staff that has demonstrated it could compete with the powerful Industriales, Pinar del Río and La Habana teams.
Sancti Spíritus's real strength lies with its offense. With sluggers Frederich Cepeda, Yulieski Gourriel and Eriel Sánchez, Sancti Spíritus sports a formidable lineup that rivals the Industriales, Pinar and La Habana teams. One key player added to the roster will complete the lineup. Camagüey native Yenier Bello, who hit three homers in a game during the 47th NS last year, was selected and could alternate with veteran Eriel Sánchez.
Cepeda, a traditional Cuban National Team star, is Sancti Spíritus's offensive gem. Not only is he one of the Cuban's top hitting players, but he also is one of the best international baseball stars. Cepeda led the 47th National Series in walks with 93.
Other international star included in the team is second baseman Yulieski Gourriel. The power-hitting infielder is a talented player and five years ago was considered the best prospect in Cuban baseball.
Also joining the Roosters team are starting pitchers Ismel Jiménez, Angel Peña, Ifreidi Coss, Ramón Licor and Yoen Socarrás.
Manager Juan Castro is ready to repeat his best performance during the last season where the team ended fourth. However a medal is on Castro's mind for this season.
TEAM SANCTI SPIRITUS
Catchers: Eriel Sánchez, Yenier Bello and Yoannis Delgado.
Infielders: Yulieski Gourriel, Yunier Mendoza, Yunier Rondón, Raikel Morales, Ixis Valle, Darián González and Rafael Acebey.
Outfielders: Frederich Cepeda, Yunieski Gourriel, Liván Monteagudo, Adonis Zamora and Aramis González.
Pitchers: Ángel Peña, Ismel Jiménez, Ramón Licor, Noelvis Hernández, Yoen Socarrás, Ifreidi Coss, Yasniel Sosa, Jorge Luis Pérez, Yusdelvis Hernández, Dany González, Jorge Luis Carbonell and Yusley Hernández.
Manager: Juan Castro. Assistants: Rafael Muñoz and Miguel Rojas. Trainers: Nelson Ventura and Roberto Ramos.
Sancti Spíritus will play its first game on December 2 against Team Granma at José Antonio Huelga Stadium in Sancti Spíritus.