If there’s one lesson to draw from Rouen’s phenomenal, two-decade long dynasty, it’s that success in the D1 league is contingent on having a depth of French-grown players.
Baseball is a team sport, after all, and it takes more than handful of high-level imports to win on a consistent basis. That having been said, a little bit of outside help never hurts, and that’s something the Huskies have also proven, year in and year out.
Pitcher Yoimer Camacho of Venezuela was a case in point. In two seasons with the Huskies (2019 and 2021), the hard-throwing righty posted an amazing 19-1 record, with 241 strikeouts in 161 innings. What a weapon!
Camacho went on to have an excellent season this last year in the Venezuelan winter league and was rewarded with an opportunity to play pro baseball in Mexico. Felicidades, Yoimer!
He won’t be back in 2022, in other words. Nor will infielder Jacob Biller, a former Kansas State University player who had the team’s best on-base percentage last year, or catcher Gabriel Bracamonte, who joined Rouen late but gave them a big boost in the post-season.
Husky fans will be happy to know, however, that the club has gone to great lengths to replace the above mentioned players, and with an emphasis, apparently, on bringing in guys with substantial pro experience in the U.S. minor leagues.
One of those, as Le Baseblog noted earlier in the month, is Javier Hernández, a catcher from Venezuela who spent seven seasons with various Toronto Blue Jays affiliates.
Since then, the champs have divulged the names of two more foreign recruits, and by the look of things, they’ll be just the complement the team’s enviable core of French players needs to make a run at yet another D1 title.
Infielder Ricardo Andujar began his professional career in his home country, the Dominican Republic, where he signed at age 19 with the Boston Red Sox.
Two seasons in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) didn’t, as he had hoped, lead to an immediate opportunity in the U.S. minor leagues. Instead, Adujar switched organizations, signing with the Baltimore Orioles, and returned for yet another stint in the DSL.
The third-time, in his case, proved to be the charm. Andujar hit .318 that year (2014), collecting 76 hits (more than he had in his first two DSL seasons combined) and earning passage, as a result, to Aberdeen, Maryland, where he played for the IronBirds in the now-defunct New York–Penn League.
From there he rose two more rungs in the minor-league system, eventually playing for the Frederick Keys, also in Marlyand, at the A-Advanced level.
That was in 2017. Five years later, Andujar, now 29, is looking to test his talents on a whole new continent, and the Huskies, according to Sylvain Virey, the club’s director of sports, couldn’t be happier to bring him on board.
“Ricardo may well be our joker,” he noted in a recent Facebook post.
If Andujar becomes Rouen’s “joker,” fellow Dominican Yeudy García will hopefully be their ace.
The 6’2” (1.88 m) righty has a plethora of professional experience, including in Venezuela’s LVBP, where he pitched in 2019 for the Leones del Caracas, the same team for which Camacho, fresh off winning another D1 title, starred this past winter.
Camacho was so successful with the Leones (6-1, 3.40 ERA) that upon finishing the season, he landed a spot with in Mexico. The Huskies are of course thrilled for him, but will miss his presence on the mound, and that, incidentially, is where García comes in.
It goes without saying that the 29-year-old Dominican has big shoes to fill. But he also comes with some big-time credentials.
The former Pittsburg Pirates prospect played just one season of rookie ball (2014) in the DSL before heading to the United States, where, by 2016, he was already playing at the A-Advanced level, for the Bradenton Marauders in the Florida State League.
From there García made it to AA, where he played three seasons (2017-2019) with the Altoona Curva, in Pennsylvania. In seven years of total MiLB experience, the hard-throwing Dominican finished with an even, W-L record of 30-30, and a respectable ERA of 3.57 in just over 500 innings pitched.
With numbers like that, expect García to make a smooth transition to French baseball. And with the Dominican joining a bullpen that already includes French standouts Esteben Prioul and Quentin Moulin, among others, expect the Huskies to take care of business on the pitching end.
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