Nicaragua pitcher earns deal with Tigers after beating Juan Soto, other stars in WBC outing

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Nicaragua may have lost to the Dominican Republic in Monday’s World Baseball Classic, dropping them 3-0 in the tournament, but at least one member of the roster emerged victorious from the competition. The Nicaraguan team announced after the game that Duque Hebbert, a 21-year-old right-hander, had signed with the Detroit Tigers after playing.

Hebbert finished the game for Nicaragua and held a loaded Dominican Republic lineup with a lone hit against no runs. He knocked out three of the four batsmen he faced Рyou may have heard of them: Juan Soto, Julio Rodríguez and Rafael Devers. He handed a well-hit double to Manny Machado. So it works.

Because Hebbert’s relief operation was at Marlins Park, his pitches were recorded by the same Statcast technology that tracks big league guns throughout the spring and summer. As such, we can see that he hit top speed at 90 mph and that he produced five combined puffs on his low to mid 80’s transition and his upper 70’s breaking ball. Apparently the tigers liked what they saw.

Here’s a look at Hebbert’s strikeout from Soto:

It doesn’t appear that Hebbert, who is listed by the team at 5ft 10 and 170lbs, has thrown in an affiliate ball before. His baseball reference page has just one line: his 15 games worth of action as part of the recent Nicaraguan Winter League. He hit 18 batters in 20 innings while also allowing 12 runs from 19 hits and seven walks.

Teams signing outstanding performers in international competitions is nothing new. Former big league assistant Peter Moylan earned a tryout (and later contract) with the Atlanta Braves after helping out at the 2006 World Baseball Classic. More recently, David Robertson has reignited his career after promoting Team USA as part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Hebbert doesn’t have to wait long before joining his new organization. Nicaragua will complete its WBC experience on Tuesday by taking on Venezuela. This game is played at noon.

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