A Look at Team Cuba in the 2023 World Baseball Classic

Pool A of the 2023 World Baseball Classic is set to be a competitive one, but can Cuba do damage in this year’s tournament? The Cuban national team has taken a hit in recent years, due to the volume of players that have defected from the nation in recent years. But for this year’s WBC, the island nation will have some of its best players suit up for the country once again.

Related: A Look at Team Italy in the 2023 World Baseball Classic


For the first time in WBC history, Cuban players that defected from the communist nation are eligible to play for the island nation. Team Cuba doesn’t boast a notable pitching staff, but does have a couple of current and former MLB pitchers that will suit up for the country in March.

Arguably the most notable name is Roenis Elias. Elias, a non-roster invitee for the Cubs this spring, saw his first MLB action in three years last season. The 33-year-old struck out six over 7.2 innings for the Mariners in 2022. Onelki García will also be a member of Team Cuba in March. García, a third-round pick by the Dodgers in 2012, was at one point one of the Dodgers’ top prospects in the mid-2010s. However, he struggled in his brief MLB career.

Position Players

The Chicago White Sox are set to be well-represented this spring in the World Baseball Classic, as both Luis Robert and Yoán Moncada wi suit up for Cuba. Robert only played 98 games in 2022, as vision issues and a sprained left wrist kept him our for portions of last season. Health has been a question for Robert, but it’s hard to deny what the five-tool player can do when on the field.

Two Cuban baseball legends are also set to join the two White Sox legends, in Yoenis Cespedes and Alfredo Despaigne. Cespedes, who last played in the Majors in 2020 with the Mets, spent time this past winter with Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League. In 18 games, Cespedes hit .188/.239/.406 with four home runs in the DOWL. Despaigne, on the other hand, will also suit for the Cuban national team yet again in 2023. The 36-year-old power hitter never played in the Majors, but was a star for several seasons both in Mexico and the NPBL.

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