Cuban veterans land in time for season opener

KITCHENER - Both Raul Gonzalez and Yadian Martinez are ready to go for Thursday's season opening contest against the Hamilton Cardinals.

Both Cuban import players were picked up from the airport Tuesday night, and have signed on with the Panthers for 2024.

Gonzalez was runner up to Hamilton's Tyler Duncan for IBL MVP last season after a stellar first year in the league.

He was near the top of every major hitting category in the IBL among qualifying hitters. Gonzalez had a .378 AVG (3rd), 13 home runs (T-3rd) and 54 RBI (1st) in 40 regular season games.

He had such a hot start to the season that he was named the Rawlings IBL Player of the Month in May 2023.

"(Gonzalez) came as advertised as he provided great defense at shortstop, as well as a potent middle of the order bat," said general manager Mike Boehmer.

He also raved about Martinez's pitch control, and is lauded as a tough competitor and good teammate.

Martinez arrived in the middle of 2023, and provided a steady hand in the starting rotation.

After a 3-1 record in the regular season, one that saw him post a 4.32 ERA in 25 innings of work, he did his best work in the playoffs. 

Martinez was the starter in both road games against London in the first round, and kept the Majors to two runs in 11 innings on the hill, all while nabbing 16 strikeouts and issuing just one walk.

PHOTOS: Dan Congdon Photography

The Panthers begin its 105th IBL season at home to the Hamilton Cardinals on Thursday, May 16. Get your season tickets, FLEX packs or single-game tickets HERE.


Position: Infielder

Hometown: Ciego de Avila, Cuba

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 200 lbs

Hits/Pitches: R/R

Birthdate: July 22, 1987

Pronunciation: Rah-ool Gun-zahl-ezz


Position: Pitcher

Hometown: Mayabeque, Cuba

Height: 5'8”

Weight: 160 lbs

Hits/Pitches: R/R

Birthdate: September 1, 1995

Pronunciation: Ya-dee-in Mar-tee-neh-z