In Houston camp, the older brother Yulieski Gurriel, star of the 2006 World Baseball Classic, is playing first base and veteran players have told people that despite his average 130 at-bat finish to the 2016 season–.292 OBP, .345 slug—that he is so good a hitter as the rust wears off that he could hit anywhere from third to sixth at age 32.
In Toronto camp, his younger brother Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. is playing first and third and the outfield, has homered, impressed everyone in the organization with his skills and aptitude.
And this past weekend, when I showed him his father’s Cuban baseball card that I purchased in Havana in 1999, he said “I have never seen that. I didn’t know he had one. Unbelievable. He’s coming here to Dunedin next week.” And Ross Atkins or Mark Shapiro will print him out a copy.
B.J. Surhoff Monday said, “He was a really good player. I played against him when I was with Team USA in 1993. He was legitimate.”
Now his sons are in the major leagues. And, typical of the culture Shapiro, Atkins, Ben Cherington, et al are bringing to the Blue Jays organization, Lourdes, Sr. is going to help out the club for a few days at their minor league complex.
Now Franklin Morales, who was Yulieski’s roommate as a teenager at a Cuban Sports Academy, asked Lourdes, Jr. if his brother told him how good a pitcher he was at the age of 15. “No,: he told Morales, who pointed at me. “He saw me.” At 15, Morales looked as if he would grow into a Vladimir Guerrero body, which didn’t happen. But he could run and had a tremendous, easy arm, at 19 led the Cuban professional league in homers as a center fielder and saves as a closer.
This year there will be American baseball cards of Yulieski and Lourdes, Jr. to go with their father’s card, which was printed in Canada, and was only available for one year because former television talk show host Jesse Helms forced an end to the printing.