Player: Yunieski Maya
Position: Right-Handed Starter/Reliever
Team: Pinar del Rio Green Sox
Comments: Yunieski Maya is one of Cuba's best right-handed pitchers and quite possibly the best right-hander in Cuban baseball today. A versatile pitcher, Yunieski is usually a starter, but the Pinar del Rio Green Sox also employ him as something of a bullpen ace, coming in to preserve the lead in absolute must-win games. Debuting in 2003-2004 as a set-up man and part-time closer with the Green Sox, Yunieski Maya throws a 90 mph fastball with excellent location, a devastating 12-6 curveball, a good changeup, and a wild but serviceable slider. Yunieski was Pinar's set-up man once again in 2004-2005, only becoming a full-time starter in 2005-2006. In was in 2005 that Yunieski made his National Team debut, pitching well in the 2005 Baseball World Cup. In 2006, he quickly added the World Baseball Classic to his resume, pitching three scoreless innings. Although he was initially on Cuba's 2008 Olympic roster, Yunieski was taken off in favor of Miguel Lahera for unknown reasons. Lahera did not pitch well in the Olympics, allowing 1 run but also many baserunners in just three innings, so I'd say that was a big-time mistake. In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Yunieski was one of Cuba's best pitchers, but wound up going 0-1 with a 1.23 ERA due to lack of run support and poor defense in the outfield. In the most recent Serie Nacional, 2008-2009, Yunieski went 13-4 with a 2.22 ERA with 119 K's and only 113 hits allowed in 146 innings. He tied for the league lead in wins (with Ismel Jimenez), complete games (7, with Norge Luis Vera), and shutouts (2, tied with Jimenez, Vera, and Danny Betancourt) and placed second in strikeouts (just 11 behind the dominating Aroldis Chapman) and ERA (to Yadier Pedroso's 1.91 mark).