Although diplomatic relations between the US and Venezuela are currently pretty cold, Venezuela has built a pipeline to the United States. No oil flows through this pipeline. Baseball players do. According to the Baseball Almanac over 100 Venezuelan born players played in the MLB in 2017. This is the 2nd largest foreign contingent in the majors. The Dominican republic is 1st with 170. According to Wikipedia 374 Venezuelans have made their way on to MLB rosters. The first being Alex Carrasquel of the Wahington Senators in 1939.
Born in Caracas, Carrasquel had a fine fastball, which he complemented with an effective knuckleball and a decent curve. He started his major league career with the Washington Senators in the American League on April 23, 1939. Carrasquel became the second player to go straight into the major leagues with no minor league experience, following Ted Lyons (1923). In his major league debut as a reliever against the New York Yankees, Carrasquel retired the side in order, striking out Joe DiMaggio, retiring Lou Gehrig on a ground ball, and Bill Dickey on a pop fly.
Going in to the 2018 MLB season, here is who I believe are the top 10 active Venezuelan players in the Big Leagues.
- Jose Altuve
- Miguel Cabrera
- Carlos Carrasco
- Felix Hernandez
- Victor Martinez
- Francisco Rodriguez
- Pablo Sandoval
- Elvis Andrus
- Willson Contreras
- Carlos Gonzalez
You may recognize some of these Venezuelan greats. Below is a nice slideshow of one man’s opinion on who are the greatest ballplayers in Venezuelan history.
Venezuelans have been making that trip up North for over 80 years. A way to escape poverty and provide prosperity for their families. Quietly and under the radar, Venezuelans are becoming a force in Major League Baseball. I look forward to seeing who makes that trek next.