Lehigh Cuban-born twins are pitching sensations
Twelve-year-old Cuban-born twins Omar and Jorge Valdez are well along in figuring out the finer points of baseball and pitching in particular.
The Valdez boys have all the pitches perfected, even the location of what they call “a crazy change up.”
The seasoning comes, even at such a young age, from throwing six days a week in their native Cuba.
The polished twins are freshly minted residents of Lehigh Acres, having moved with their mother, Bertha, from the Havana suburb of Guanabacoa July 11. They joined their father, Jorge Valdez, and uncle, Omar Valdez, in Lehigh Acres.
Omar and Jorge have caught the attention of other players who will face the Major Pirates.
“Teams we play will say, ‘Oh my, it’s you guys pitching tonight. Don’t you have someone else who can pitch?,’ ” said Pirates manager Steve Seyez.
Omar and Jorge have made an immediate impression at Williams Field in the Lehigh Acres Little League and nearby at the Lehigh Acres Middle School, where they are part of the Exceptional Student program.
“The twins have strong fastballs and other players just hope to foul off a pitch,” Seyez said. “They already know how and where to place a pitch which is hard to do on the Little League level.”
“Then when they are expecting a fastball I’ll throw a changeup, catching them off balance,” said Omar through a translator.
“Omar also has a crazy curveball,” said Jorge while flashing a big smile. “My best pitch is a fastball.”
The Twins were quick to point out what they perceived as the difference between youth baseball in the two countries.
“Baseball is different back in Cuba, we trained every day and were 110 percent committed,” Omar said. “You don’t see that here.”
“Jorge and Omar make a great effort every minute and they get along well with their teammates,” Seyez said.
“There is a barrier in communicating with each other but like at school, someone helps us translate the thought,” Omar said. “My brother and I usually understand what the coach is saying.”
Mother Bertha Valdez is proud of the transition her sons have made.
“It was very sad when we left our home in Cuba and moved here, the boys were playing at the top level,” she said. “They are motivated by receiving a good education and maybe someday playing Major League Baseball.”
The twins explained a coach for Cuba’s national team gave them special instruction, recognizing their potential.
“Our national coach had us doing arm stretches using a rubber band and working with weights to build our forearms,” Jorge said.
The twins have not allowed a run in three games. Omar recorded 15 strikeouts in one six inning game while Jorge produced 11 strikeouts in four innings in another win.
Because of finances, the twins will not be able to see a spring training game but they have their favorite players.
Omar likes outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury of the New York Yankees and Jorge said retired Yankee Derek Jeter is his favorite.