Before I began capturing video and writing about Cuban baseball, my photos connected me with the Cuban baseball community. Some of my early photos were the first to circulate as the internet was in it’s naissance. I have had the good fortune to return many times and capture the Cuban National Team in Canada as well. Join me in a new series where I share some of my favourite photos and tell the Stories of some of Cuba’s best players. Today let’s look at Yosvani Alarcón Las Tunas Through My Lens.
“Donning the tools of ignorance”. A famous quote referring to starpping on catching pads. No position holds as much control over the flow of the game yet receives less glory. Catching takes a greater physical toll than playing any other position in baseball. Offence from your catcher is thus considered a bonus. Cuban catchers are under represented at the pro level yet have produced some stellar backstops in the National Series. The greatest slugger at the position at least in the 2010s but perhaps this century and maybe even beyond is Yosvani Alarcón.
Alarcón is uniquely revered for his batting prowess behind the plate. He won’t confuse anyone for Ivan Rodriguez or even frequent National Team catching caddy Frank Morejón with the glove. His bat however has kept him as a main stay with the Cuban squad since the retirement of catching legend Ariel Pestano. Yosvani Alarcón has consistently represented Cuba in myriad international tournaments including the World Baseball Classic.
The learning curve for young catchers is likely the steepest for any player on the diamond. It should come as no surprise that Alacrón took close to five years to inherit the Las Tunas starting job then. From his debut at age 19 in 2004 until 2009 he was a part-time player for the Leñadores. Once given the chance to play regularly he put up one of the most impressive offensive seasons for a catcher in Cuban history. His 2009-2010 season stands out as his peak as well when he .318 with 26 home runs and 76 RBI. Impressive numbers for anybody on the diamond, eye popping for a catcher.
Alarcón would never approach that power production again but has hit double digit round trippers in seven other seasons. His .325 career batting average is eye catching for any position in any baseball league. Yosvani Alarcón has also become a leader for Las Tunas. He and his brother Yordanis led the squad to back to back finals appearances including winning the squads first championship in the 58th Cuban National Series. Yordanis Alarcón a slugging Third baseman was named the 59th National Series MVP.
I have captured Alarcón in action with team Cuba multiple times as well as with the Lumber Jacks of Las Tunas in Cuba. His lower half appears to be the key to his hitting success. He is listed at 6’1 209 lbs and he carries most of his weight in his legs. This might explain how he can be a bit clunky defensively but holds up to the grind of being a catcher. Strong legs allow him to still drive to the ball even banged up from the war of attrition that is catching. Alarcon collected his 1000th hit in the National Series during the 60th National Series. A rare feat for a catcher in Cuba’s top league.