the main challenge of Nicaraguan baseball in 2021

Bittersweet 2020 is behind us and we welcome 2021, still in the middle of the pandemic

2020 was as difficult as facing Jacob deGrom in the batter’s box every day, with the pandemic ravaging the world, and although we welcome 2021 even without finding an effective vaccine, Nicaraguan baseball and players think big for this year, both nationally and internationally, of course taking into account sanitary measures to avoid fanning the pitches above 100 miles per hour from Covid-19.

The year begins with the Professional League in its hottest stage. The debutant Tren del Norte has been a show all season, although the four teams that are in Round Robin look very even. At this point, there is nothing for anyone.

Let’s see in general what awaits us this year in baseball:

Pre-Olympic Tournament

In 2020 the Preclassic and Pre-Olympic tournaments were canceled. The teams, including that of Nicaragua, were in Tucson, Arizona, last March, ready to start the tournament, when the cases of Covid-19 began to multiply, forcing the suspension of the Preclassic, which will probably be rescheduled for 2022, since that the World Classic will be played until 2023.

The Pre-Olympic would be played this year, if the pandemic allows it. There are doubts that the United States can do it in March and it is considered that Cuba could take it. It was originally scheduled for March 22-26 at Surprise and Temple in Arizona.

It will be a very tough tournament because there is only one ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games and to get it Nicaragua will have to overcome Cuba, Venezuela, Canada, Colombia, the United States, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The teams that finish in second and third place will go to a final qualifying tournament in Taiwan.

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Mundial Sub-23

Like the Pre-Olympic and Pre-Classic, the U-23 World Cup was postponed and will be played from September 24 to October 3 of this year, in Los Mochis and Ciudad Obregón.

Nicaragua won the World Cup with nine wins without defeat, including two to Cuba, which has the Nicaraguan Federation of Associated Baseball (Feniba) thinking big about the possibilities of the national team in this tournament. Also, the same equipment could be brought because the age of eligibility will be 24, due to the postponement.

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“This is the best opportunity for us to win a world championship,” said Nemesio Porras, the president of Feniba. “We are going to take practically the same team, we have high quality players that make us have high hopes,” he added.

The year of Loáisiga?

Jonathan Loáisiga is the new Dennis Martínez, Marvin Benard, Vicente Padilla or Everth Cabrera, that is, the man on whom all eyes are on and from whom we expect a lot. It is perhaps even a little unfair to put such a burden on it, but in the absence of figures, the law of Las Sierritas is the bearer of our hopes.

Loáisiga has the talent to shine. He was considered one of the top three prospects for the Yankees and was on the list of the top 100 in all of baseball. It has been progressing, perhaps not at the accelerated pace that we would like, its progress is evident and it was also healthy in 2020.

Many experts consider him the next Yankees spiker.

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How many big leaguers?

Nicaragua had a personal record five players in the majors in 2018 and 2019, but 2020 was another story. Alex Blandino was not called by the Cincinnati Reds and JC Ramírez left the Los Angeles Angels’ plans, which left us with Jonathan Loáisiga (Yankees), Erasmo Ramírez (Mets) and Cheslor Cuthbert (White Sox), who only he had one at-bat on the season.

For 2021, Loáisiga and Erasmo are safe bets. He continues to grow as a reliever for the Yankees and Erasmo still doesn’t have a team, but it’s only a matter of time before he gets settled with one because he’s coming off a good season.

In the case of Blandino, there is no explanation why he did not play in the majors in 2020, when he was one of the best in spring training, but the closest he came to climbing was being part of the taxi squad, that is, one of three players who accompanied the team on tours in case they needed a player change on their roster.

¿Y Crawford?

High hopes were had for Leonardo Crawford, who amid the Dodgers’ sheer number of prospects managed to be the organization’s best left-handed pitcher in the Minor Leagues in 2018 and 2019, but in 2020 there were no Minor Leagues and he stayed. without a chance to project.

Now Crawford came to the Milwaukee Brewers in a trade and hopes of seeing him up soon are reborn.

The rest of the Nicaraguan prospects still need a little more development and among the most advantageous are Ismael Munguía (San Francisco), Diomar López (Cincinnati) and Dilmer Mejía (White Sox).

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Nor can you ignore Kevin Gadea (Yankees), who has not looked good with the Giants in the Professional League, but remember that he returned after three years out with injuries and we are probably not seeing his best version.

National baseball

The Professional League must conclude in the third week of January and a month later, to be exact on February 20, the start of the Germán Pomares Superior National Baseball Championship is scheduled, always with the participation of 18 teams, returning to the modality of All against all, it will be a long tournament of eight months.

The next edition of the Professional League could start in the second week of November, like the previous one, after the presidential elections that will be on November 7.

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