Cubans are back in vogue in Major League Baseball.
Yasiel Puig's electrifying play, Aroldis Chapman's flame-throwing left arm, Jose Fernandez's surprising maturity and Jose Iglesias's spectacular fielding are just a few examples of how Cuban players are living a golden moment in the best baseball league in the world.
And that's why the talent scouts are drooling, thinking that every new player off the island will be the next major league star.
And, in fact, there are some very good players right now on the Cuban national team currently competing in the Caribbean Series in Venezuela. There are even some who could make the leap to MLB without having to spend a single day in the minor leagues, as was the case with Alexei Ramirez, shortstop for the Chicago White Sox, and Yoenis Cespedes, left fielder for the Oakland Athletics.
One of those players is Alfredo Despaigne, a powerful slugger who holds the record for the most home runs in a single Cuban season, with 36 in 90 games. In that same season, he also accumulated 105 RBIs and batted .326.
Together with Cespedes, Despaigne, who is 27 years old, formed one of the most powerful offensive pairings in the history of the Cuban National Series. Many experts consider him a much better hitter than Cespedes, although perhaps not as complete a player.
Another who dazzled onlookers during his participation in the 2013 World Baseball Classic is the second baseman Jose Miguel Fernandez. A left-handed batter and stellar fielder, he is called by many the Cuban Robinson Cano, because of his similarities with the great Dominican second baseman who played for the Yankees and just joined the Seattle Mariners.
Fernandez, who is 25, is the current batting champion, having won the title with an astronomical average of .393 in 2013. A good judge of pitches, the Matanzas second baseman is also a cold-blooded batter who seems to thrive under pressure, a quality reserved only for a chosen few.
The outfielder Yasmani Tomas, who plays for Industriales, the most famous team in Cuban baseball over the past five decades, is only 23 and has huge potential. Physically powerful like Yasiel Puig, Tomas thrives on fastballs, in the style of Gary Sheffield, although he needs to work on hitting breaking balls.
Tomas began the 2013 World Baseball Classic as a reserve player for the Cuban national team. But on the strength of his batting, he became a lineup fixture as the tournament progressed.
On the other hand, third baseman Yulieski Gourriel, a player who dazzled talent scouts when he appeared on the international scene in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, seems to have missed his window of opportunity. At the time, he was a 21-year-old prospect, able to play both second and third base.
But that was eight years ago; and now, at almost 30 years old, his reputation for wilting under pressure works against him -- and is the reason many call him the Cuban Alex Rodriguez.
Jorge Morejon is a Cuban reporter with more than 20 years of experience, first in Cuba, and since 1998 in the U.S. He was a columnist for El Nuevo Herald in Miami, Univision.com and FoxDeportes. He was also a sports anchor for Telemundo International.