Out of the 269 Major League Baseball (MLB) players born internationally, 104 are from the Dominican Republic. This is the largest number of overseas players in the 2023 rosters. The Caribbean nation has a long history with the sport, and Dominican baseball players are some of the best in the game.
From David Ortiz to Pedro Martinez, we list the best players to step on the diamond.
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Albert Pujols followed in his father’s footsteps to become a baseball player. When he started, Pujols improvised with the lime and a carton of milk. The budding player moved to the United States, where he picked up a baseball and received a scholarship to play for Maple Woods Community College.
The St. Louis Cardinals drafted him into the MLB in 1999 and debuted in 2001. Pujols played as a baseman or hitter, making over 3,000 hits and more than 700 runs.
Pujols won two World Series in 2006 and 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals, is a six-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award, and a two-time Gold Award winner. After 21 seasons in the game, Pujols retired in 2022 as one of the best Dominican baseball players.
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Fondly known as Big Papi, Ortiz is thought to be one of the best Dominican baseball players. Ortiz established himself as a dependable clutch hitter and leader. Having begun his career in high school in his home country, Ortiz joined the Seattle Mariners in 1992.
The clutcher played there until he signed with the MLB team, the Minnesota Twins, in 1997. Big Papi played for them until 2002, after which he moved to the Boston Red Sox, the only other team he played for in his career.
Papi won the World Series three times with the Red Sox in 2004, 2007, and 2013. Ortiz won seven Silver Slugger Awards, made the All-Star team ten times, and was the MVP in 2013.
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Marichal was an unconventional player. His pitching routine involved stretching out a leg in a way that no other player did, and he was one of the earliest pitchers from the Dominican Republic to make a name for himself in the game.
Between 1960 and 1973, he played for the San Franciso Giants, where he spent most of his career and also earned most of his awards. Marichal made it into the All-Star team 10 times, was a wins leader twice in 1963 and 1968, and an MLB ERA Leader in 1969.
In 1983, Marichal became the first Dominican player to enter the Hall of Fame. For this, he’ll always be remembered as one of the best Dominican baseball players ever.
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Pedro Martinez is also in the league of the best Dominican baseball players of his era. Standing at 5 foot 11 inches, he produced powerful pitches that gave hitters a hard time.
When he started baseball, he used oranges to pitch until he got his first proper baseball. Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League was his first professional team. Martinez then turned out for the Azucareros del Este and returned to the Tigres.
Martinez joined the MLB side Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent in 1988 and played in the minor league until 1992 when he debuted in the major league. Other teams he played for include:
- Montreal Expos (1994 – 1997)
- Boston Red Sox (1998 – 2004)
- New York Mets (2005 – 2008)
- Philadelphia Phillies (2009)
The pitcher won the World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2004, made it to the All-Star team eight times, was the MLB ERA leader five times, and led the strikeouts three times. In 2015, Pedro Martinez was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
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Vladimir Guerrero grew up with few resources in the Dominican Republic. As a result, he used a milk carton and socks filled with plastics as a baseball and glove. His first proper baseball at 15 from his brother, who also played the game.
Guerrero joined the Montreal Expos in 1993 and, three years later, made his debut in the major league.
Although Vladimir never won a World Series, his performances were more than enough to earn him eight Silver Slugger Awards, a nine-All-Star inclusion, and he was the Most Valuable Player in the 2004 season. Guerrero was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.
If you’ve watched these players, you’ll understand why the Dominican Republic produces the best baseball players. They have a natural flair developed before they joined the professional systems, which makes them stand out. Are there other Dominican baseball players you think should make the list?
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