The Rockland Boulders have already hosted stars stretching from Canada to Japan during their six-year run in the Can-Am League, and will welcome the Cuban National Team to Provident Bank Park for a three-game series in June.
The Cuban National Team will visit the Boulders from June 24-26 as part of a six-week, 19-game trip through the Can-Am League in what will be their first contest against an American professional team since playing the Baltimore Orioles in 1999.
The Cuban National Team is slated to take on the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday at 2 p.m. EST on ESPN in Cuba, where President Barack Obama will be in attendance.
“We’re very excited because you have the next superstars in baseball coming to play,” Boulders executive vice president and general manager Shawn Reilly said Monday. “We expect a scout from every major league team in addition to some (mid-level) executives to be here scouting players because very rarely do they get the chance to see the Cuban players play everyday against top-level competition.”
Reilly also sees the trip as a tremendous opportunity for his own players.
“For our guys, to get a chance to showcase their skills in front of all these scouts, I believe it’s invaluable,” he said. “They’re hoping for a second chance — unless they’re a rookie, they’re hoping for a chance — but they just want to be seen.
“A lot of times, they’re seen, but the scouts say, ‘Well, they’re playing in the Can-Am League,’ but to play against Major League-caliber players like the Cuban team, what an opportunity to showcase what they’ve got.”
Alumni of the Cuban National Team include MLB all-stars Yoenis Cespedes, Aroldis Chapman, Alexei Ramirez and 2014 American League rookie of the year Jose Abreu.
The Can-Am League is an independent league, meaning it has no affiliation with any major league ball club. Players in the league do find they’re way into an MLB organization — the Boulders have had more than a half-dozen players sign with major league teams — but it’s often only after putting up gaudy statistics during the year.
Adding interest to the historic rendezvous, the games will count towards the Can-Am League standings, according to the Boulders’ press release.