Game 1 vs The Dominican was rained out on Thursday and the bats didn’t realize Friday’s game wasn’t rained out vs Mexico. Cuba fell 5-0 to the host country in mustering 3 hits and can ill afford to fall to 0-2 in the U23 Baseball World Cup. The results of that game and the tournament in general are testament to how the baseball world has evolved over the past few years. Chinese Taipei has been a worthy adversary in the past and figures to be no slouch in this competition.
The Cuban effort against Mexico was buoyed by a solid 5.2 innings from Industriales’ Bryan Chi. The 22 year old hurler from Havana scattered 4 hits and 2 runs while striking out 6. Perhaps most impressively he walked none, which has been his biggest issue in his young National Series career. Whatever the results for Cuba the tournament’s top headline will likely revolve around the players that don’t return to Cuba. As of this writing three players in catcher Loidel Rodríguez and pitchers Uber Mejías and Luis Danys Morales have left the team and the country.
Cuban baseball defections are not a new phenomenon but have increased exponentially in 2021. The number of players leaving to pursue American baseball dreams and riches is both impressive and astounding. Cuba continues to produce immense amounts of talent however it is tougher to convince that talent that Cuba is the place where they should harness it. The U23 squad will be in tough in the World Cup due to this overall attrition but doubly due to the roster drain since arriving Wednesday in Obregon Mexico.