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2020 MLB Is Packed With Latin American Talent but Who Were Pioneers


( 28, 2020)--The 2020 Major League Baseball regular season and ongoing playoffs are packed with overseas talent. But let’s be more precise. Actually, players from the Latin American nations dominate international players in the league. And it isn’t a novelty. 

For example, in 2019, MLB registered 485 Latin American players in Spring Training. This season, of 300 players named on opening day rosters, 108 or 36% were from abroad. Yes, North America, South America, Asia, and Europe are all represented. However, it’s the Latin American nations that stand out. 

MLB changed

The country with most players, not counting US citizens, currently in MLB is the Dominican Republic, with 35, which makes 11.6% of opening day lineups. In a close second is Venezuela, with 31 players or 10.3%. Puerto Rico and Cuba have double figures as well, 12 (4%) and 11 (3.7%) respectively. 

As for other countries located in the Latin American region, Curaçao (4), Colombia (3) Aruba (1), and Honduras (1) also had players on the 2020 opening-day rosters. Looking at the bigger picture, four more Latin countries had representatives in wider 40-man rosters: Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru.

However, throughout history, it hasn’t been so easy to get into Major League Baseball for Latinos. In 1903, when MLB was founded, there were just six foreign-born players on opening-day rosters. In 1940 – almost 40 years after the foundation of MLB – the situation was even worse, with just two players from outside America named to opening day rosters. 

The situation has changed only two decades later. In 1960, there were 12 overseas players (11 Latinos) who played on opening day, which was 8.33% of all players in the competition. In 1980, there were 26 international players who featured on opening day (10.5%). 

Research from Betway has shown that by 1990 there were 44 (17.7%), while in 2000 that number exceeded the quarter of all players in the league: 72 or 25.3%. Between the start of the new millennium and 2010, the growth of overseas players slowed (27.8%), but went up again in the last 10 years, with 108 or 36%. Mathematics says that represents an increase of 28% in the period between 1960 and 2020.