Wilfredo Cancio Isla (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — Cuban pitcher Diosdany Castillo Vergel has fled Cuba and is currently training in Mexico, driven by the dream of playing in the US Major Leagues, sources close to the baseball player told CaféFuerte.
Castillo, 27, left Cuba by sea in mid-August. He had been captured by Cuban authorities in a previous attempt to leave the country illegally earlier this summer and was immediately dismissed from the Villa Clara team and Cuba’s national pre-selection for “grave indiscipline.”
“Diosdany is yet another player who has fled revolutionary oppression and exhaustion, haunted by unprecedented accusations,” baseball trainer Orlando Chinea, currently training the pitcher in Mexico, declared this past Thursday.
Chinea, a veteran trainer of pitchers, the man who forged the talented right-handed Miami Marlin’s Jose Fernandez, said they would be working with Castillo to mold and develop his talents as a relief pitcher in northern Mexico for a period of three weeks, ratifying that the plan is for Castillo to secure a professional contract with a Major Leagues team.
An Exceptional Reliever
“As a pitcher, he has developed his relief abilities to the max…it’s incredible,” Chinea explained. “He is very intelligent and shows great mental and motor skills that are open to the technical adjustments needed for professional baseball. I see a great future ahead of him.”
In addition to their love of baseball, Chinea and Castillo share a background as natives of Villa Clara. Castillo was born in Camajuani. Chinea is from Santa Clara and was involved in the training of teams from the city for decades, before his separation as trainer for Cuba’s national selection and his subsequent fleeing to the United States by sea in 2005.
“I’d say he’s a genuine representative of Cuba’s country folk, with both the talent and craftiness needed to pitch,” said Chinea, who runs a pitching academy in Tamp. “He got tired of living a lie. Players know very well that the reforms in baseball are another trick of the Castro government, they don’t believe anything anymore. They opt to escape whichever way they can.”
Castillo is part of the wave of Cuban baseball players who have left the island, through different migratory means and channels, in order to secure a Major Leagues contract.
Suspended and Sanctioned
The right-handed pitcher has a fast ball that clocks consistently at speeds over and above 90 mph, Castillo made a name for himself in Cuban baseball as an efficient reliever. He made his debut in Villa Clara in 2007. He played in 194 games (as a reliever in 193) in the course of seven championships, with a balance of 23-15, 27 saves and an effectiveness average of 3.48. He struck out 117 rivals and allowed 110 batters to walk to first base in a total of 346 innings.
His performance earned him a place in Cuba’s national baseball team, which participated at the 3rd World Baseball Classic held in 2013. That same year he was a member of the national champion Villa Clara team and he played at the 56th Caribbean Series held in Isla Margarita, Venezuela, this past February.
At the close of June, however, officials from the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) removed him and five other young prospects from the national pre-selection because of an attempt to leave the country illegally. His fellow Villa Clara team member, left-handed Yasmani Hernandez Romero, was among the others sanctioned in this manner.
Castillo and Hernandez’ frustrated attempt to leave the country took place on the coast of Pinar del Rio this past June 22.
Escape from Villa Clara
The Villa Clara Provincial Baseball Commission ratified the decision and suspended the two pitchers, who are friends and shared a room during the National Series season, indefinitely.
Their absence has left Villa Clara’s team extremely vulnerable for the upcoming Cuban baseball season to begin in September. Another player who had become one of the team’s pillars in recent years, left-handed pitcher Misael Siverio, also left the team following his arrival in the United States in July of 2013, shortly before taking part in a friendly match against a US university selection.
During a recent interview for Cuba’s Vanguardia newspaper, Villa Clara pitching trainer Roidel Enriquez predicted it was going to be “a difficult year” for the team, with the dismantling of its pitching staff. The team will now rely exclusively on the talented pitcher Freddy Asiel Alvarez and the performance of the up-and-coming members of the team.
Yet another of Villa Clara’s most promising pitchers, Yoandi Fernandez, popularly known as “Cancaleca”, is also excluded from training for Villa Clara’s pre-selection.
Statistics for Diosdany Castillo during his years in the Cuban baseball league.