Panthers Sign Experienced Team Cuba Infielder
The Kitchener Panthers are proud to announce the signing of infielder, Raul Gonzalez (Ciego, de Ávila Cuba), for the 2023 season.
Raul is a 35 year old veteran infielder who has the ability play shortstop, third base and second base. He has competed in 17 seasons in the Cuban National Series, all for the Ciego de Ávila Tigers. He is a longtime teammate of Cuban Panther, Yorbis Borroto (2017-2019), and together they have formed the top middle infield combo in Cuba over the past decade.
Gonzalez has been no stranger to success while competing in the Cuban National Series as his Ciego de Ávila Tigers have won 4 championships and reached the league finals 6 times. He has been a mainstay in the heart of the Tigers order and defence over his career and the Panthers are very excited to add another veteran with championship pedigree to the roster.
Over 17 seasons, Raul holds a .301 bating average to go along with 91 home runs, 550 RBI and 189 doubles in 1095 games played. His combined stats over the 2021 and 2022 seasons saw him record a .328 batting average to go along with 16 home runs, 90 RBI and a .431 OBP. He also reached base on balls 68 times while only striking out 29 times.
Raul has been just as impressive over his career in the field as he has at the plate, recording a .971 fielding percentage on over 4000 chances while having spent time at almost every position on the diamond.
Raul’s long-standing success in the National Series has earned himself the honour of representing Cuba on the international stage numerous times. Included in his Team Cuba tenure are two World Baseball Classic appearances, one Premier 12 Tournament appearance, two Caribbean World Series appearances, two Pan Am Games appearances, three selections to Team Cuba which participated in the Can Am League, and several other appearances at various international tournaments.
Raul checks several boxes which Panthers General Manager, Mike Boehmer, was looking to check this offseason. He possesses an impact bat which will compliment an already dangerous Panthers order, his defensive skillset and versatility should improve the infield defence, and his athleticism should improve the Panthers’ running game which was a weak spot in 2022. On top of this, his veteran presence and impressive baseball resume should be of great value to the talented younger players on the roster.
Panthers GM, Mike Boehmer, comments, “ We are very pleased to have Raul Gonzalez join the Panthers this season. In addition to an outstanding career in the Cuban Nacional Series, Raul has considerable International experience. He’s a winner and will add veteran leadership to our ballclub. Raul Gonzalez can play all INF positions. We like his versatility and see him hitting in the middle of the order”.
The 2023 Season is quickly approaching as the Panthers open on the road on May 19th @ Brantford and play their Home Opener on May 21 vs Welland at 2:00 PM. Season Tickets are on sale now with Flex Packs soon to be released, get yours HERE.