Twins Geography: Puerto Rico
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA TodaySince Bithorn joined the ranks of big leaguer in 1942, a total of 257 players from Puerto Rico have spent time in Major League Baseball. The Twins have had quite a few players from there as well.
A list of players from Puerto Rico is quite impressive. There are been three players from Puerto Rico who are currently in baseball's Hall of Fame with a couple more who either will be shortly or at least deserve strong consideration.
The most recent inductee is the great Roberto Alomar. Orlando Cepeda had a tremendous playing career. But if you talk to people from Puerto Rico, Roberto Clemente is the greatest player from the island.
Clemente passed away in a plane crash delivering relief goods to Nicaragua on New Year's Eve of 1972. He was just 38-years-old and had a couple of years remaining in a career. He had reached the 3,000 hit club in his final game. Players from the country have frequently made attempts to get Clemente's Number 21 retired.
Ivan Rodriguez is one of the greatest catchers of all-time and should join those three in the Hall soon. 2017 is his first year of eligibility. Sandy Alomar, Jr., and Benito Santiago were a couple more catchers who had great careers. Speaking of catchers, Bengie, Jose and Yadier Molina are all from Puerto Rico too.
Carlos Delgado is the all-time leader in home runs for a player from Puerto Rico. He hit 473 in his career and drove in 1,512 runs. Juan Gonzalez hit .295 with 434 home runs and 1,404 RBI in his career. Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada were huge parts of those strong Yankees teams in the 1990s. Ruben Sierra had a terrific career, hitting over 300 home runs and playing 20 years.
Javier Vazquez's 165 wins is most in MLB history by a player from Puerto Rico. Juan Pizarro won 131 games over his 19 season MLB career. Willie Hernandez won a Cy Young and MVP for the Tigers in 1984.
Jose Cruz (and Jose Cruz, Jr.). Danny Tartabull. Jose Vidro. Mike Lowell. Jose Oquendo. Juan Beniquez. Carlos "Boom Boom" Baerga.
Carlos Beltran just completed his 19th season in the big leagues. He has hit .281/.354/.492 (.845) with 536 doubles, 78 triples, 421 home runs, 1,536 RBI and 1,522 runs scored. He won the Rookie of the Year award as a Royals outfielder in 1999, has played in nine All-Star games, won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards.
After two years of construction, the Carlos Beltran Academy, a high school for kids in Florida, Puerto Rico. The academy accepts kids ages 14 to 18, and kids get instruction from MLB players. Its first graduating class was in 2013, and since then, several players have been drafted by MLB teams.
Some of today's brightest young stars are from Puerto Rico. Carlos Correa, Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor grew up in Puerto Rico. Two of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Jose Berrios and Jose De Leon, are also from the island country.
TWINS IN PUERTO RICO
The Twins have had many players from Puerto Rico. Some of been good. Others, maybe not so much.
For instance, lefty reliever Juan Agosto posted an 8.86 ERA in 17 games for the Twins in 1986, but it was just a blip in his 13 seasons in MLB. Here are more players from Puerto Rico who spent time in a Twins uniform:
- Orlando Merced - 13-year career, signed with Twins before 1998 season. Traded at July deadline for Matt Kinney and more.
- Jose Morales - Catcher who spent parts of three seasons with the Twins, mostly as a backup.
- Vic Power - Already had four All-Star appearances and won some Gold Gloves before coming to the Twins in 1962. Spent the next three seasons with the Twins and won Gold Gloves all three seasons.
- Rene Rivera - Played 53 games for Seattle from 2004 to 2006. Resurfaced in the big leagues as Twins backup catcher in 2011. Still just 33, he is a well-respected backstop who has caught over 100 games two of the last three years.
- JC Romero - Came up with the Twins as a starter in 1999. Shifted to bullpen in 2002 and went 9-2 with a 1.89 ERA in 81 innings. Seven of his 14 seasons were with the Twins.
- Javier Valentin - Debuted in September of 1997 before backing up Terry Steinbach for the Twins the next two seasons. Then didn't play for the Twins (four games) three years later. Went on to play six more seasons in the big leagues. He is now a coach for the GCL Twins.
- Junior Ortiz - He wore the number zero. Just two of his 13 MLB seasons were with the Twins, but he was Scott Erickson's personal catcher in 1990 and 1991.
- Jesus Vega - Had 41 at bats in 16 games for the Twins in 1979 and 1980. He hit five homer runs in 71 games for the Twins in 1982.
The present also looks a lot like the future.
- Kennys Vargas burst on the scene with a strong power display the last two months of 2014. He struggled in 2015. In 2016, he got another chance and had a very strong July. He's out of options, so he'll likely make the Twins roster in 2017.
- Eddie Rosario was a surprise April call up in 2015, but he stayed, and he played very well. He filled out the stat line with double figures in doubles, triples, home runs, and he led the league in outfield assists. 2016 was a struggle for the free swinger.
- Juan Centeno came to the Twins as a minor league free agent before the 2016 season. He spent most of the season as the Twins backup catcher.
- Jose Berrios is a big part of the Twins future. He debuted in 2016 to mixed results. We saw glimpses of what could be through a lot of thestruggles.
There are several minor leaguers in the Twins system from Puerto Rico.
- OF Edgar Corcino split 2016 between Ft. Myers and Chattanooga.
- JJ Fernandez was drafted as a catcher, but he has transitioned to the outfield in Cedar Rapids.
- Lean Marrero was drafted as a 17-year-old outfielder in 2015. He's spent these two seasons in the Gulf Coast League.
- IF Nelson Molina started 2016 in extended spring training, but he came up to Cedar Rapids and had a very nice full-season debut.
- Jose Miranda was one of two Twins supplemental 2nd round pick this year. The shortstop debuted in the GCL.
- Dereck Rodriguez is the son of Ivan Rodriguez. He was drafted by the Twins and spent three seasons as an outfielder before moving ot the mound. He struggled early in 2016 with the Kernels, but the light appears to have switched on. He ended the season pitching well in Ft. Myers.
Residents of Puerto Rico are US citizens. It has been a territory of the United States since 1898, the Spanish-American War. It's a small island. In fact, the widest spot across the island is approximately 40 miles wide.
In addition to tourism, he island exports many products, but may be best known for its rum.
And its baseball players. Great baseball players.