Dominican players spotlight: AL Central

The AL East is filled with strong Dominican players throughout, from Baltimore’s $60 million payroll to the Yankees’ $277 million. One of the divisions with the most Dominican influence is also perhaps the strongest in baseball. Now, this series covers a division whose leader is at the .500 mark and is not in the top eight for teams in the American League (AL).

The AL Central has been the punchline of the league. It has failed to produce a 100-win team since the turn of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as winning only one series since 2016. Which teams have the quality Dominican players to buck that trend?

Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez successfully steals home plate during a road game against the Kansas City Royals. Ramirez is one of four Dominican players on the active roster.
Charlie Riedel/AP

Chicago White Sox

Though not the biggest Latin American star on his own team, Eloy Jimenez has been one of the lone bright spots in Chi-Town this season. Jimenez has blessed the White Sox with a .272 batting average and 12 home runs, the third most on the team. Jimenez did not spend a minute on any Dominican Summer League teams, but did play with the Gigantes del Cibao for three seasons.

In addition to Jimenez, two Dominican players help compose the White Sox pitching staff. Reynaldo Lopez, the right-handed lanzador from San Pedro de Macorís, has been with the organization since 2017.

Gregory Santos has enjoyed a career year at just 23 years old. The San Cristobal product has posted 44 strikeouts and has a positive WAR for the first time in his career this year.

Cleveland Guardians

Bani has become a star infielder factory as of late it seems. Not only is Wander Franco from there, but star third baseman Jose Ramirez as well. Ramirez had a .289 batting average going into the All-Star break and is the heart and soul of the Guardians’ hitting core. Ramirez got his start many moons ago with the Toros del Este, where he hit .312 as a 19-year-old.

Amed Rosario, the shortstop out of Santo Domingo, complements Ramirez well. While Rosario has a negative WAR to his name, he still bats .268, one of the top 60 slicing averages in the league.

As for pitching, Rio San Juan’s Emmanuel Clase has already mustered 25 saves in a down year by his standards. San Pedro de Macorís’ Enyel de los Santos himself is enjoying a career year, WAR-wise.

Detroit Tigers

Detroit only has one Dominican player on the roster: Jose Cisnero. The 34-year-old from Bajos de Jaina, the Santo Domingo suburb, spent two seasons with the Astros before spending a half a decade bouncing around independent leagues before finally landing in Detroit. Since then, he has settled into the Tigers bullpen, albeit without posting a single-season WAR at or above 1.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals also have just one Dominican player and he is also a relief pitcher: Jose Cuas. The righty out of Santo Domingo set a new career high in strikeouts and sports a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.5.

Cuas’ journey to the show has taken several twists and turns. He was drafted twice: first by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012, then by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015. After failing to make the major leagues and spending time with the Tigres del Licey and the Aguilas Cibaenes, Cuas finally landed in Kansas City.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins wrap up the AL Central with two Dominican players, both pitchers out of the bullpen. Jhoan Duran and Oliver Ortega are both counted on by Minnesota to close out games, Duran in particular. Duran leads the bullpen in strikeouts this season with 45, making the town of Esperanza proud. Ortega has seen very limited action in his first season in the Twins organization.

While the number of Dominican players in the AL Central is on the lower side, the AL West, which will be covered next time, picks it up, particularly the defending champions.

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