Yoenis Cespedes left Cuba shortly after he tied for the single-season home run record in Cuba's top league. Now he shares that title with one more person, and he may be on the verge of relinquishing the crown entirely to his former Cuban teammate.
Granma left fielder Alfredo Despaigne hit two home runs today, giving him 33 on the season and tying the record for the most home runs ever in a Serie Nacional season, set last year by Cespedes and Cienfuegos first baseman Jose Abreu.
Despaigne, 25, has nine more games left in the regular season to reclaim the single-season home run mark for himself, which he did in 2008-09 when he hit 32 home runs and won his first of two consecutive MVP awards. Despaigne entered today hitting .345/.496/.732 in 79 games, ranked second in OBP and slugging. Despaigne could challenge for his third MVP, though Abreu, the 25-year-old reigning MVP, entered the day hitting .391/.538/.782 with 26 homers in 75 games. A righthanded hitter, Despaigne is only 5-foot-9 but he is thickly built and has been a standout player in Cuba since his junior national team days, playing for the Cubans at the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 World Baseball Classic, among other tournaments.
Still entering the prime of his career, Despaigne has already established a track record as one of Cuba's most accomplished hitters. Pretty soon he could have the home run record all to himself.
Here's the audio and video of today's record-tying home run call from Cuba: