Latin-American Countries Producing the Most MLB Players
From David Ortiz to Johnny Cueto to Jose Bautista, the Dominican Republic is an MLB star-producing factory unlike any other.
This season, Big Papi, Johnny Beisbol and Joey Bats are among the 106 Dominicans who have graced the biggest stage with their presence.
In the rankings that follow, we take a look around the Latin American world to zero in on the five countries that have supplied the most major leaguers in 2016.
In addition to ranking the countries in order of total number of players, we highlighted all the veteran heavyweights like Ortiz and the rising youngsters like Julio Urias of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Before running down the countries that cracked the top five in these rankings, let's take a look at a few of the nations that garnered honorable mentions:
- RP Dayan Diaz, Cincinnati Reds
- RP Tayron Guerrero, San Diego Padres
- SP Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox
- SP Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves
- 3B Cheslor Cuthbert, Kansas City Royals
- SP Erasmo Ramirez, Tampa bay Rays
- RP JC Ramirez, Los Angeles Angels
- C Christian Bethancourt, San Diego Padres
- RP Enrique Burgos, Arizona Diamondbacks
- RP Randall Delgado, Arizona Diamondbacks
- RP Severino Gonzalez, Philadelphia Phillies
- C Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies
- INF Ruben Tejada, San Francisco Giants
Total Number of Players: 15
With apologies to Marco Estrada and Roberto Osuna, neither of the Toronto Blue Jays right-handers can touch Julio Urias when it comes to upside.
After a wobbly start to his major league career, the 19-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers phenom is looking locked in on the mound. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Urias has sported a 2.49 ERA in his last five starts after posting a 9.39 mark in his first two.
On Tuesday, the Dodgers edged the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 and Urias tallied the first of what promises to be many big league wins.
"It's beautiful, incredible," Urias told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. "It's one of the best days of my life. What can I say?"
- SP Marco Estrada, Toronto Blue Jays
- RP Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays
The Emerging Talent
- SP Julio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Puerto Rico
Total Number of Players: 23
Puerto Rico isn't a country. It's a U.S. territory. But to leave the Caribbean island out of this conversation would be to paint an incomplete picture of the international baseball landscape. This year alone, 23 Puerto Ricans have appeared in MLB games.
That list of players includes Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor—two of the most dynamic shortstops in the game. Correa, who has totaled 13 home runs in the first half, is the reigning American League Rookie of the Year.
In his sophomore season, Lindor has emerged as an MVP contender. Per FanGraphs' calculations, the 22-year-old has produced the 13th-highest WAR in the majors this season.
- RF Carlos Beltran, New York Yankees
- SS Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
- C Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
- SS Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
The Emerging Talents
- UTL Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
- UTL Kike Hernandez, Chicago Cubs
Total Number of Players: 24
From Yoenis Cespedes to Aroldis Chapman to Jose Fernandez, Cuba has supplied some of the most electric major leaguers in recent memory.
Cespedes has totaled 18 homers for the New York Mets, while Chapman has been busy making fans of his own New York Yankees teammates across town.
“He’s incredible to watch," marveled his setup man Andrew Miller, per Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York. "He’s one of the most fun guys to watch in baseball.''
Then there's Fernandez, who has been the best pitcher in the non-Clayton Kershaw department in 2016. The Miami Marlins ace is second only to Kershaw in punchouts, and his WAR is third in the majors among pitchers, per FanGraphs.
- 1B Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
- CL Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
- SP Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins
- RF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Emerging Talents
- SS Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis Cardinals
- OF Jorge Soler, Chicago Cubs
Total Number of Players: 84
Venezuela boosts a deep and ridiculously talented pool of big leaguers.
The list is littered with All-Stars and a Cy Young Award winner, but future first-ballot Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera is the king of the bunch. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Miggy recently became one of 12 active players to hit a homer against all 30 teams.
While Cabrera is a two-time AL MVP, his countryman Jose Altuve is right in the race to snag that honor in 2016. The second baseman leads the world in batting average, is fifth in baseball in OPS and has collected a career-high 14 home runs. Altuve's June numbers were downright outlandish, as he slashed .420/.492/.620.
- 2B Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
- 1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
- SS Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals
- RF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
- SP Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
- DH Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers
- 2B Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers
- C Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
- CL Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers
- CL Hector Rondon, Chicago CUbs
The Emerging Talents
- CF Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies
- CF Ender Inciarte, Atlanta Braves
1. Dominican Republic
Total Number of Players: 106
106. That is a truly staggering number.
As you can see from the lists below, a whole host of the game's established giants and brightest young talents hail from the Dominican Republic—a country of just slightly more than 10 million people.
None has a larger personality or has made a more resounding impact than legendary Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. In his final go-around, the 40-year-old has thumped 19 homers and is always good for a money quote.
"I'm not really worried about my heel. I don't want to have to worry about it. I just have to be smart about it," Ortiz told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. "But who cares if my heel gets better if we're still getting our asses kicked?"
One notable observation is that with the exception of San Francisco Giants ace Johnny Cueto, the island nation's footprint leans heavily to the position-player side of the equation.
- 3B Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
- RF Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
- 2B Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
- SP Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants
- DH/RF Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
- 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
- DH David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
The Emerging Talents
- 3B Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies
- CF Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins
- RF Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates
- SP Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.