The 2017 edition of the World Baseball Classic is officially underway. One of the favorites, Cuba, began their run for a gold medal on Tuesday morning when they took on Japan. They would go on to lose the game but would bounce back nicely with a win over China Tuesday night. While their opening loss wasn’t the ideal way to start the tournament, they were able to show off their young star, Yoelkis Cespedes.
This isn’t the first time there’s been a Cespedes making headlines out of Cuba. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should be well aware of the two-time All-Star and man of many talents, Yoenis Cespedes. Since coming to the states in 2012, Yoenis has emerged as one of the game’s top stars and is always someone to watch when he’s on the field. But this article isn’t about the well-known Yoenis Cespedes. Instead, it’s his 19-year-old half-brother, Yoelkis.
Yoelkis started to make a name for himself in the Caribbean Series earlier this year, and now we are getting a chance to see him play at a national level. At 5-foot-9 and 187 pounds, Yoelkis has all the makings of a future star. He has an absolute cannon in the outfield, sounds familiar, and has the speed to cover ground at any outfield spot. At the plate, Yoelkis has a calm and smooth swing, that allows him to cover all areas of the plate and hit for average. While he hasn’t displayed the type of power we’re used to seeing from a Cespedes, he’s still just 19-years-old, and more power should come with maturity.
He got his first taste of action Tuesday morning, when he trotted out to right field as Cuba took on Japan, a team that has given them all sorts of problems in the past three Classics. Cuba lost the game 11-6, but their offense was far from quiet, with a huge game from Cespedes. He went 3-4 with a double and a run scored, hitting the ball hard in every at-bat.
Cuba was back at it Tuesday night against China, and this time things were well in their favor. Four perfect innings by starting pitcher Bladimir Banos had the Chinese team lost at the plate, and they would stay that way the whole game, finishing the game with just one tally in the hit column. On the offensive side, Cuba broke into the run column with a huge single by, who else, Yoelkis Cespedes. He set the tone and was followed by a two-run triple by Roel Santos. Cuba wouldn’t look back and blanked China 6-0.
Cuba’s hopes of advancing to the next round are still high, with their record even at 1-1. Cespedes and the Cuban team will be back at it again Thursday night against Australia. The game is at 10 pm eastern time and can be watched on MLB Network and MLB.Tv. Despite how far Cuba advances in the tournament, keep an eye on Yoelkis Cespedes, as we could see him playing in the states sooner rather than later.