Everyone who follows baseball knows that the best players come from the Dominican Republic. Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano and Jose Reyes are a few names that come to mind. But DR may soon be rivaled by Curacao, when it comes to baseball-player-producing Caribbean nations.
Curacao’s status as a baseball outpost is not brand new. Five-time All-Star Andruw Jones hails from the island, and so does Detroit Tigers ace pitcher Jair Jurrjens. A team from Curacao won the Little League World Series in 2004. But 2013 will probably go down as the year Curacao baseball officially arrived.
In June, ESPN.com ran a story highlighting three of the game’s best young shortstops, Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorious and Jurickson Profar, all of whom come from Curacao’s capital city of Willemstad. The article declared Curacao the new “Baseball Island.” Out in LA, pitcher Kenley Jansen has emerged as one of the game’s best closers, helping to propel the Dodgers to a near-certain first-place finish.
Out in Japan, Wladmir Balentien, an ex-Major Leaguer who once played for the Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners, has emerged as the top player in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. This weekend, he set the record for the most home runs in a season in the world’s second most competitive pro baseball league, surpassing the record long held by the legendary Saduharu Oh.
So it’s safe to say that a lot more professional baseball scouts will be spending time in Curacao. May we suggest some of Curacao’s distinctive Rom Verde, or Green Rum, or some cuisine krioyo at Jaanchies Restaurant, in Westpunt?