All-Latino baseball team: The best all-time lineup of players born in Cuba

·1 min read
Tony Perez, a key member of Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" teams of the 1970s, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.
Tony Perez, a key member of Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" teams of the 1970s, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, USA TODAY Sports put together All-Latino baseball lineups from throughout Latin America.

The tradition of professional baseball in Cuba dates back to 1878, two years after the National League was founded.

For decades, Havana hosted winter baseball, barnstorming Negro league teams and MLB spring training games — and Havana was home to two minor league teams.

But Cuba's winter league folded in 1961 in the aftermath of Fidel Castro's Communist revolution, isolating most of the island's talent for decades until players began defecting in large numbers in the 1990s.

So, putting together Cuba's all-time baseball lineup requires considering players from a variety of very different eras and circumstances: Cubans in the majors, winter ball stars, Cuban National Team players and defectors.

LINKS: Dominican Republic | Venezuela | Puerto Rico | Mexico | Panama | Rest of Latin America

Here are the players who made the cut:

Catcher: Yasmani Grandal, 2012-present

First base: Tony Pérez, 1964-86 (Hall of Fame)

Second base: Tony Taylor, 1958-76

Third base: Omar Linares, 1985-2002 (played in Cuba)

Cuba's Omar Linares was a star for a Cuban National Team that won gold at the Atlanta Olympics.
Cuba's Omar Linares was a star for a Cuban National Team that won gold at the Atlanta Olympics.

Shortstop: Bert Campaneris, 1964-83

Outfield: Tony Oliva, 1962-76

Tony Oliva had a career .304 batting average in 15 seasons with the Minnesota Twins.
Tony Oliva had a career .304 batting average in 15 seasons with the Minnesota Twins.

Outfield: Cristóbal Torriente, 1920-32 (Hall of Fame, played in Negro leagues)

Outfield: Orestes "Minnie" Miñoso, 1946-64, 1976, 1980

Designated hitter: Rafael Palmeiro, 1986-2005

Utility: Martín Dihigo, 1923-45 (Hall of Fame, played in Negro leagues)

Starting pitcher: Luis Tiant, 1964-82

Luis Tiant won 229 games with a 3.30 ERA in 19-year major-league career.
Luis Tiant won 229 games with a 3.30 ERA in 19-year major-league career.

Starting pitcher: Adolfo Luque, 1914-35

Adolfo Luque compiled a 194-179 record with a 3.24 ERA in 20 MLB seasons.
Adolfo Luque compiled a 194-179 record with a 3.24 ERA in 20 MLB seasons.

Starting pitcher: Mike Cuellar, 1959-77

Closer: Aroldis Chapman, 2010-present

New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who defected from Cuba in 2009, has 303 major-league saves.
New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who defected from Cuba in 2009, has 303 major-league saves.

Cesar Brioso is author of "Havana Hardball" and "Last Seasons in Havana."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Best Cuban baseball players: All-time lineup of stars from Cuba