Cepeda Becomes One of a Kind in Cuban Baseball
During the time when Cubans were defecting like an open bag of M&M’s, Frederich Cepeda stayed in Cuba. Not because he was not good enough to play in the major leagues. More so because he was a bit too aged for what major league teams were looking for in a baseball player. It appears he has aged like fine wine. He may be
one of the best hitters the major league teams never signed.
The former outfielder who now spends more of his time at designated hitter became the first Cuban player in the history of the Nacional Series to accumulate 2,000 hits, 300 homeruns and 400 doubles according to the WBSC website, though Baseball Reference still shows him falling short of those numbers (1901, 292 and 371). The 39 year old started his career in 1997 playing for the Sancti Spiritus Gallos. He is still playing for them now. They are currently in second place in the Cuban League.
There is a lot of history in his game, something he can tell youngsters once he retires. An Olympic gold and silver medal achieved in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008). One year of playing the game in the NPB in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants (2014), though he only hit .163 in 129 at bats. Participation in World Cups and World Baseball Classics. The game of baseball has taken him to all corners of the world. And he has come back as a champion in many of those events, taking home eight gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze.
Yulieski and Lourdes Gurriel played with him for Sancti Spiritus. Yulieski is four years younger than Cepeda, but has still had success in the major leagues, including a World Series ring with the Houston Astros, something he never accomplished in Cuba. The Sancti Spiritus Gallos have yet to win a championship with Cepeda playing on the team. The only championship they have won was in 1979.
Perhaps the 2020/21 season will give him a Cuban championship with Sancti Spiritus.