Saturday, January 2, 2010

2001 Phillies Team Issue #54 Eddie Oropesa

The Phillies are expected to announce the signing of right-handed reliever Danys Baez within the next few days, pending the successful passage of his physical. With the signing of Baez, the team's opening day 25-man roster is coming more into focus. (More on that in a future post . . .)

The Cuban born Baez defected to the U.S. from the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, and he's pitched previously with the Indians, Rays, Dodgers, Braves and Orioles. Quickly scanning the list of Cuban born players from Baseball Reference, I found several former Phillies: Jose Cardenal, Bobby Estalella, Tony Gonzalez, Pancho Herrera, Tony Perez, Cookie Rojas and Tony Taylor.

But the last Cuban born player to don a Phillies uniform was Eddie Oropesa. Eddie made the team's opening day roster in 2001 and made his Major League debut on April 2nd, pitching a third of an inning against the Marlins in Miami. Eddie defected to the U.S. in 1993 and pitched eight seasons in the Dodgers and Giants minor league systems before debuting with the Phillies. Along with Rheal Cormier, he was one of the two lefty relievers the Phils relied upon in '01, pitching in 30 games with a 4.74 ERA. Eddie and the Phillies parted ways following the season, and he'd pitch in parts of three more seasons with the Diamondbacks and Padres. He's bounced around since 2005, pitching most recently in 2007 in the Hoofdklasse Honkbal. (Which of course is the Dutch professional baseball league. Honkbal. I love it.)

Eddie never made it into any of the base Topps, Fleer or Upper Deck sets from the early 2000s. However, he did have a cameo on the 9/11 tribute card featuring the Phillies in the 2002 Topps set. Eddie is the player to the far left on the card, bowing his head.

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