Cuba will return to the Caribbean Series, again. The tournament which pits the Champions of the top domestic leagues in the Caribbean was first contested in 1949. While Cuba was originally a pillar, their inclusion has been sporadic and inconsistent since. Cuba last competed in 2019 when the Las Tunas Lenadores plus select reinforcements attended as Cuban National Series Champions. Visa issues prevented their inclusion in 2020 as U.S sanctions and the shuttering of their embassy in Havana made Visa acquisition arduous. Cuban officials claimed American influence caused the Caribbean organizers to add roadblocks to the process. The reality is likely some combination of foreign meddling and Cuban bureaucratic ineptitude.
The Cuban squads that competed and dominated early read as a historic ledger of the Cuban Winter League. Almendares were the first Caribbean Series Champions while Marianao, Habana and Cienfuegos would take turns at the top of the Cuban League and almost certainly the Serie del Caribe. With Fidel Castro eliminating professional sports the Series itself would take a hiatus for nine years until 1970. Despite the Cuban National Series still being deemed amateur Cuba returned in 2015 as the Pinar del Rio Vegueros would win the tournament. This would prove to be the modern apex as Cuba has yet to repeat. 2016 is better known for the high profile defection of Yuli Gurriel and his brother Lourdes Gurriel jr. during the tournament. The brothers represented perhaps the most surprising names to leave and 2015 the halcyon days of Cuban dominance on the International stage.
The 2023 Caribbean Series will be the largest yet and commences February 2nd. Caracas Venezuela will host and two stadiums La Rinconada and Forum Stadium in La Guaira will see action. 32 games will be contested over the week long gauntlet. Eight nations will compete.
- Vaqueros (Colombia)
- Agricultores (Cuba)
- Wildcats KJ74 (Curacao)
- Tigres de Licey (Dominican Republic)
- Caneros (Mexico)
- Federales (Panama)
- Indios de Mayaguez (Puerto Rico)
- Leones/Tiburones (Venezuela)
Agricultores are the recent champions of the Cuban Elite League. They represent the provinces of Granma and Las Tunas who have combined for 5 of the last 6 Cuban National Series Championships. To little surprise The Agricultores led through most of the 50 game Elite Schedule. They did however receive quite a scare in the finals having to battle back from a 3-1 series deficit against the late surging Portuarios of Havana. They enter the Caribbean Series with a few additions and mostly pitchers but predominantly the team that competed for the past 4 months.
In previous competitions Cuba effectively sent a version of the National Team. Cuba is of course preparing for the upcoming Baseball World Classic and many of those players are unavailable. That team will welcome professionals previously ostracized by the Cuban Government. The WBC players currently on the island suited up against the Agricultores for a 2 game mini-series in Havana just before the Elite Champs left for Venezuela. The WBC’ers dispatched of the Farmers with relative ease in nearly mercy ruling them in both games. A positive sign for Cuba’s hopes in the now biggest International tournament in the world, hopefully not a harbinger of their chances in this still prestigious international tournament.
All games will be viewable through the ESPN + App
Note certain player name spellings are attributable to Baseball Reference’s database listing and not necessarily the common public spelling.