Baseball Factory and PONY Alums Francisco Lindor and Jose Berrios are the Prides of Baseball in Puerto Rico
These two young Puerto Rican stars, were the main attractions during Major League Baseball’s Puerto Rico Series between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins this past week (April 17-18). And each of them stole the show in a game during the two-game series.
With the crowd behind him the native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Jose Berrios pitched 7 innings of 3 hit, shutout baseball while striking out 5 in a wild game two of the Puerto Rico Series against the Indians. The Twins would eventually win 2-1on a bases loaded walk-off single in the 16th inning, the first runs of the game were scored in the 14th inning on 2 solo home runs by each team.
In his previous start against the White Sox, Berrios would again go 7 innings, giving up 3 hits and allowing no runs, but this time with 11 strike outs. During his first outing of the 2018 season, against PONY alum Zach Britton and the Baltimore Orioles, Berrios pitched a 3 hit, complete game shutout. In his 2017 season, Berrios struck out 139 batters in 26 games, with a 3.98 ERA.
Before he had to leave his home and country to pursue the game he loved, Berrios would play in the PONY league Boys Baseball of Puerto Rico. A number of years later, he would play in the 2011 Under Armour Baseball Factory All-America Game, which lead him to being drafted 32nd overall in the 2012 MLB Draft by his current team the Minnesota Twins.
As an 11 year old from Caguas, Puerto Rico, Francisco Lindor played in the 2004 Mustang World Series for Toa Baja in Puerto Rico. A few years would pass and Lindor played PONY baseball for the Villa Nueva Liga.
In 2010, Francisco Lindor played for PONY in the 2010 Tournament of Stars, where he was teammates with Lance McCullers Jr.(Baseball Factory and PONY alum). During the tournament, Lindor would hit .375 with 1 BB, 2 doubles, and 3 RBIs. One year earlier, Lindor attended a Baseball Factory National Tryout in Bradenton, FL(2009).
Out of high school, Lindor was drafted 8th overall in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians. He made his Major League debut in 2015 and has been the current face of Puerto Rican baseball ever since.
Mr. Smile as he is called, had arguably the most memorable home run in Puerto Rican baseball history during the first game of the Puerto Rico Series. Francisco Lindor hit the eventual game deciding 2-run HR in the top of the 5th inning as the crowd erupted with jubilation and cheers. That was the loudest I have ever heard a ballpark, besides Progressive Field during Game 7 of the 2016 World Series between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs. This was more than just a home run, this was a celebration of Puerto Rico. A celebration of baseball and a relief from devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
During the 2017 season, the two-time all-star hit 33 HRs with 89 RBIs and a .505 Slugging Percentage, good enough to win him his first Silver Slugger Award. Throughout Lindor’s first four seasons in the MLB, he has hit .290 while racking up 501 hits. Lindor picked up his 500th Big League hit this past weekend against the Baltimore Orioles.
From playing PONY baseball in Puerto Rico to attending Baseball Factory events in America, these two stars are a couple of the most notable multi-cultural alumni we have. Their success and accomplishments may make younger players in Puerto Rico want to play for PONY and go to Baseball Factory events, and without the opportunities given by both organizations this may not have been possible.