Cuban-born Yuli Gurriel #10 of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammate Jose Altuve #27 after scoring off of a double hit by Brian McCann #16 against Tommy Kahnle #48 of the New York Yankees during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Fri. Nov. 3, 2017: Houston we have a winner – a World Series winner! The Houston Astros clinched the World Series Wednesday night in a historic first in the franchise’s history. And several Caribbean-born players contributed to that win as part of the 2017 40-man season roster. They are:
Carlos Correa was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB) made his MLB debut in 2015, and won the American League Rookie of the Year Award. On October 6, 2017, Correa hit his first home run of the 2017 postseason against the Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. Two days later, he would hit his second home run of the postseason.
On October 14, he hit his third home run of the post season including a walk-off double leading the Astros to their second win of the ALCS series against the Yankees. Correa and the Astros offense slumped as they lost all three middle games at Yankee Stadium. The Astros won Game 7 by a score of 4−0, advancing to their second World Series in franchise history, to face the National League pennant-winning Los Angeles Dodgers. In Game 2, Correa, along with two Astros teammates–José Altuve and George Springer—and two Dodgers players–Charlie Culberson and Yasiel Puig—all homered in extra innings as the Astros prevailed, 7−6. The five home runs accounted for the most hit in extra innings of any single game in major league history. Correa celebrated the World Series win of by popping the question to his surprised significant other Daniella Rodriguez on live TV!
Yuli Gurriel, 33, was born in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. He is the son of former Cuban player Lourdes Gurriel, Yulieski. He defected from Cuba in 2016 and was signed on July 16, 2016 to a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the Houston Astros. In Game 3 of the 2017 World Series, Gurriel hit a home run off of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish, and made a racially insensitive gesture after he returned to the dugout. Gurriel was caught on camera stretching the sides of his eyes and mouthing the Spanish word chinito, which translates to “little Chinese Boy”. Gurriel apologized, and said that anyone from Asia is called a chino in Cuba, although he acknowledged that he knew the term was offensive from having played in Japan. Gurriel was suspended for the first five games of the 2018 season without pay, but not for the World Series. Gurriel agreed to not appeal the suspension and to undergo sensitivity training in the offseason. The Astros said that they would donate Gurriel’s salary lost during the suspension to a charity that supports diversity efforts.
In Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, Gurriel faced Darvish again, and tipped his helmet before his at bat as a respectful gesture. The Astros won Game 7 by a score of 5-1.
Carlos Beltran was born in Manati, Puerto Rico. Beltran, 40, is among the best all-time statistical hitters in postseason games, which has earned him nicknames such as “the new Mr. October”, “Mr. October, Jr.”, “Señor Octubre” and “the real Mr. October” from the media. He has broken the 1.000 OPS mark in four different playoff series. Beltran has been a force in the postseason throughout much of his career. He hit .307 with 66 hits, 16 home runs, 42 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.
The 2017 World Series win by the Astros over the Los Angeles Dodgers, gave the former NY Met his first championship ring.
Moments after the Astros’ title win, Beltran was in tears and displayed the Puerto Rican flag alongside his teammates. The outfielder has raised over $1 million in hurricane relief for his home country.
Francisco Liriano, 34, was born in San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic. On July 31, 2017, the Blue Jays traded Liriano to the Houston Astros for Nori Aoki and Teoscar Hernández. Liriano was moved from the rotation to the bullpen following his acquisition. Liriano made 20 appearances out of the bullpen and finished with an 0-2 record with a 4.40 ERA. Overall in 2017, Liriano made 38 appearances (18 starts) with a 6-7 record and a 5.66 ERA. The Astros finished the year with a 101-61 record (first in AL West), and eventually won the 2017 World Series.
Juan Centeno, 27, was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. In December 2016, Centeno signed a minor league contract with the Houston Astros. He appeared in his first game for the Astros on May 23, 2017 against the Detroit Tigers where he homered in his debut. In 22 games with the Astros in 2017, Centeno finished with a .231 batting average, 2 home runs, and 4 RBI. The Astros finished the season with a 101-61 record, and eventually won the World Series for the first time ever. Centeno did not play in any playoff games, but still won his first career World Series title.