Frederich Cepeda Cruz
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 207 lb.
- Born April 8, 1980 in Sancti Spíritus, Sancti Spíritus Cuba
Frederich Cepeda is an outfielder who played well in both his native Cuba and in international competition. Cepeda was a well-rounded offensive threat who drew walks, hit for average and with power. Cepeda played for Sancti Spíritus from 1997-1998 to 2012-2013, before being allowed to play in Nippon Pro Baseball. He led the Cuban Serie Nacional in walks 8 times and the Super Liga in at least six different categories. He made All-Star teams in four major international competitions. As of 2022, he was still playing in Cuba at age 42.
Cepeda led the 2000-2001 Serie Nacional with 86 walks. He batted .299/.467/.529. In the 2001-2002 campaign, he hit .378/.491/.575, 4th in the league in average, to help Sancti Spíritus win the Western division. He batted .394 in the postseason. In game 7 of the finals, he came to bat against Oscar Gil in the 9th inning, the bases loaded and a 1-0 deficit but struck out in the clutch.
He starred in the 2002 Super Liga, leading in runs (24), doubles (11) and homers (7). He tied Juan Carlos Linares for the most hits (35) and tied Bárbaro Cañizares and Ariel Borrero for the most RBI (19).
Cepeda debuted for the Cuban national team in the 2002 Intercontinental Cup, hitting .179/.477/.286 with 15 walks, 13 runs and 11 RBI in 10 games. He had almost twice as many walks as any player in the competition and tied Eduardo Paret for the Cuban lead in walks. He drove in 5 runs in the Gold Medal game, helping Cuba to victory.
Cepeda led the 2002-2003 Serie Nacional with 15 intentional walks. He hit .347/.498/.605, 20 home runs and 75 runs in 90 games. He drew 90 walks, but it was 15 less than leader Juan Manrique. He was 8 homers behind Joan Carlos Pedroso. He again was the top hitter in the Super Liga, pacing it in average (.435), runs (21), homers (7) and RBI (20).
In the 2003 Pan American Games, Cepeda was 1 for 12. He played for Cuba in the Olympic qualifiers as they won a spot in the 2004 Olympics. In the 2003 Baseball World Cup, Frederich hit .406/.444/.906 with 4 homers and 9 RBI in 9 games. He smacked two homers in the 4-2 Gold Medal game win over Panama. He tied Sharnol Adriana, Tiago Magalhaes and Naotaka Takehara for third in the Cup in homers, one behind Audes de Leon and Takashi Yoshiura. He joined Yoshiura and Rubén Rivera as the Cup All-Star outfielders.
Cepeda produced at a .319/.452/.610 rate in the 2003-2004 Serie Nacional. He drew 55 walks, a low number by his standards. In the 2004 Olympics, he hit .455/.514/.727 with 10 runs in 9 games. He was third in the Olympics in average behind teammate Ariel Pestano and Shinya Miyamoto. He tied 10 others, including Michel Enriquez, Kenji Johjima, Kazuhiro Wada, Norihiro Nakamura and Ryan Radmanovich for 5th with 2 home runs, one behind leaders Yurendell de Caster, Kosuke Fukudome, Brett Roneberg and Yoshinobu Takahashi. Cepeda was third with 15 hits, 3 behind Miyamoto and Pestano. Cepeda was Cuba's top hitter in the Gold Medal game, going 2 for 4 with a walk, home run, two runs and two RBI in their 6-2 win over Australia. His homer came off of John Stephens.
Cepeda hit .352/.509/.555 with 93 walks and 76 runs in 90 games in the 2004-2005 Serie Nacional and led in walks; he was 6th in average. He battled a wrist injury during the 2005 Baseball World Cup, limiting him to batting from the left side of the plate. He only batted .184/.279/.211. He still came up with a big moment in the Gold Medal game, going from first to home on a Pestano single.
In the 2005-2006 Serie Nacional, Cepeda hit .320/.512/.559 with 104 walks, leading the circuit. He scored 76 runs in 84 games. During the 2006 World Baseball Classic, he batted .385/.500/.731 with 6 walks and 8 RBI in 8 games. He led Cuba in slugging and was second to Yoandy Garlobo in average and OBP. He tied Justin Morneau, Yung-Chi Chen and Miguel Tejada for third in the event with 3 doubles, trailing Jong-beom Lee and Nobuhiko Matsunaka. He tied Derrek Lee, Jorge Cantu and Tsuyoshi Nishioka for 5th in RBI, trailing Seung-yeop Lee and Ken Griffey Jr. by 2 and Hitoshi Tamura and Adrian Beltre by 1. He tied Nishioka for third in total bases behind Lee and Griffey. He tied Bobby Abreu, Tamura and Nishoka for third in walks, 2 behind David Ortiz and one behind Albert Pujols. Highlights included a 3-run homer off of Giovanni Carrara in the win over Venezuela and his role in the Gold Medal game. In the finale, he had 3 of Cuba's 6 RBI in their 10-6 loss to Japan. In the sixth inning, he doubled home Yulieski Gourriel while facing Shunsuke Watanabe. In the 8th, he hit a 2-run homer against Watanabe with Gourriel aboard. Cepeda missed the WBC All-Star outfield as Jong-beom Lee, Ichiro Suzuki and Griffey were chosen. In the 2006 COPABE qualifier for the 2008 Olympics, Frederich hit .361/.415/.556 with 10 runs in 9 games to help Cuba clinch a berth in the Beijing Summer Games.
In the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games, Cepeda batted .400/.483/.880 with 3 homers, 6 runs and 8 RBI. He led the tourney in homers and slugging as Cuba won Gold. He completed a busy year with the 2006 Intercontinental Cup, Cepeda produced at a .433/.538/.567 clip with 8 walks, 9 runs and 9 RBI in 9 games. He tied Chen, Ivanon Coffie, Gino Lollio, Giuseppe Mazzanti and Pestano for 4th in RBI, trailing Yoandry Urgellés, Young-seop Bae and Adriana. He was 0 for 3 with 2 walks and a run in the 11-inning Gold Medal game win over the Dutch national team. He joined teammates Urgellés and Giorvis Duvergel on the tournament All-Star outfield.
At age 26, Cepeda kept on hitting in the 2006-2007 Serie Nacional with a .337/.500/.458 batting line and 86 walks in 83 games. He turned in his lowest home run total of the decade to that point by only hitting 5, having always reached double digits previously. He led the league in walks, 3 ahead of Alexander Mayeta and also in intentional walks (23).
In the 2007 Pan American Games, Cepeda was a miserable 2 for 21 with no walks but Cuba still won Gold. He did better in the 2007 Baseball World Cup. In Cuba's opener against Australia, he hit a 2-out, 2-strike 93-mph fastball from Brad Thomas for a homer with a 2-1 deficit in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game. Cuba went on to win on Osmani Urrutia's homer an inning later. Against the Netherlands, he singled in the 7th against Diegomar Markwell and scored on a single by Urrutia, just beating out Dirk van 't Klooster's throw to Sidney de Jong at the plate. It tied the game at 1 and was Cuba's only run in a 2-1 defeat. Cepeda wound up costing Cuba a run when he lost a fly from Raily Legito in the sun in the 8th; Legito would score the Netherlands' winning run. Cepeda had a chance to redeem himself with another 2-out at-bat in the 9th down by a run, but he struck out against David Bergman. He was 1 for 4 in the Gold Medal game loss to Team USA, the first time Cuba had lost the Gold Medal game of a Baseball World Cup in four decades. He hit .444/.512/.694 with 8 RBI overall in the 2007 Cup and joined Colby Rasmus and Trent Oeltjen as the tourney All-Star outfielders.
Cepeda produced at a .333/.503/.576 clip in the 2007-2008 Serie Nacional. He fielded just .888 in left field, though. He did lead in walks with 93, 16 ahead of Joan Carlos Pedroso for his sixth time leading the league in that area. On the other hand, he did not make the top 10 in anything else.
Cepeda was one of Cuba's top stars in the 2008 Olympics, hitting .308/.500/.654 with 10 walks, 2 homers and 11 runs in 9 games. As Cuba's left fielder, he made no errors in the field and had one assist despite his poor defense in the 2007 World Cup and 2007-2008 Serie Nacional. He scored and drove in runs in Cuba's 4-2 win over Japan, homered off of Cheng-Chang Lee for the game's only run in a 1-0 victory over Taiwan and homered off Brian Duensing for a key insurance run in the win over Team USA. In the Gold Medal game, he drew a 9th-inning walk from Hyun-jin Ryu and was the potential winning run before Yulieski Gourriel hit into a game-ending double play as Cuba lost 3-2 to take Silver. Cepeda was 8th in the preliminary round in slugging (.632) and led with 9 runs.
Frederich was arguably the best hitter in the first two rounds of the 2009 World Baseball Classic, but Cuba failed to make the final four, their first time ever; they had made the finals in every major global baseball event since the 1951 Amateur World Series. For the Classic, Cepeda went 12 for 24 with 2 doubles, 3 homers, 5 runs and 10 RBI in six games. He homered twice off Barry Armitage in Cuba's opener. He got 3 of Cuba's 8 hits in their first shutout loss to Japan and had three hits as they eliminated Mexico.
In 2008-2009, Cepeda batted .338/.490/.547 with 84 walks and 79 runs in 87 games. He tied for 6th in the league in runs and was second in walks, 5 behind Michel Enríquez. Cepeda kept on producing in 2009-2010 with a line of .345/.487/.679 with 74 runs, 78 walks (to 42 strikeouts), 24 home runs and 82 RBI in 83 games. He teamed with Eriel Sánchez and Yulieski Gourriel to give Sancti Spiritus the first trio of 20-homer men in Serie Nacional history. He tied Leris Aguilera for 5th in the loop in long balls, was 5th with 197 total bases, was 4th in RBI (trailing Gourriel, Alfredo Despaigne and Alexander Guerrero), was third in walks (behind Irakli Chirino and Joan Carlos Pedroso) and was 5th in slugging.
In the 2010 Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament, he hit .382/.543/.549 with 12 walks in 11 games as Cuba finished second to Venezuela. He led the event in walks (one ahead of Ramon Vazquez) He was named the All-Star DH for the tournament. That winter, he hit .397/.518/.774 with 84 runs, 81 RBI, 77 walks and 28 home runs in 83 games in Cuba. He was second in runs (5 behind Yoenis Céspedes), tied Juan Carlos Torriente for 8th in hits, tied Yunior Paumier and Héctor Olivera Jr. for fifth in doubles (25), was fifth in home runs, tied Céspedes for the most total bases (236), tied Gourriel and Dariel Álvarez for 6th in RBI, was second in walks (one shy of Mayeta), was third in average (behind new star José Abreu and Enríquez), was second in slugging (.208 behind Abreu) and was second in OBP (behind Abreu). He set a league record with home runs in six straight games in March. He was named the All-Star LF for 2010-2011, joining Despaigne and Céspedes in the outfield.
As Cuba's DH in the 2011 Baseball World Cup, he hit .386/.480/.705 with 13 runs in 12 games. He tied Curt Smith for the most runs in the Cup but lost the All-Star DH nod to Panama's Fernando Seguignol. He had 3 hits in a 8-7 win over Team USA, had their only run against Orlando Yntema in a 4-1 upset loss to the Dutch national team, finished a homer shy of the cycle and produced four runs in a win over Team Canada to go to the finals. In the Gold Medal game, he got Cuba's first hit and only run in another loss to the Netherlands, doubling off Rob Cordemans in the 4th, advancing on a wild pitch and scoring on a fly from Despaigne. He was retired by Cordemans his other two trips to the plate entering the 8th. He came up in the bottom of the 8th with two on, two out and a 2-1 deficit, but flew out against Juan Carlos Sulbaran to blow a chance for Cuba.
Cepeda hit .333/.400/.572 with five runs in five games as Cuba's DH in the 2011 Pan American Games. He tied Abreu and Gourriel for second on Cuba in runs, one behind Despaigne. Hitting third in the Bronze Medal game, he went 2 for 4 with a run as Cuba blistered host Mexico, 6-0. He hit .302/.453/.500 with 52 runs, 54 RBI and 59 walks to 22 strikeouts in 64 games in the 2011-2012 Serie Nacional. In the 2012 Haarlem Baseball Week, he hit .292/.433/.625 with 7 RBI in 7 games. He drove in both runs in a 3-2 loss to Puerto Rico, facing another Cepeda, Benny Cepeda. Frederich also provided all the offense in a 2-1 win over Taiwan, a two-run homer off Meng-Chen Fan in the 8th. With a 3-3 tie in the 10th against the US, he drew a bases-loaded walk from Michael Lorenzen to force in the winning run. In the finale, Cuba faced 6-0 Puerto Rico. Cepeda hit a homer off Juan Padilla for the 700th home run in Haarlem Baseball Week history, then scored the final run in a 4-2 win. He led the event with 15 total bases, tied Gourriel for the most RBI and tied Yoshiki Eto for the home run lead.
In the 2012-2013 Serie Nacional, Cepeda hit .357/.507/.604 with 49 walks in 45 games in the first half (the league had changed formats, with 16 teams in one half and 8 teams in the next). Defense remained poor as he fielded .909. He tied Despaigne for 7th in runs (30), tied Adir Ferran and Marino Luis for 8th in hits (55), tied for second in triples (4, one behind Lázaro Rodríguez), tied Despaigne for third in total bases (93, behind Abreu and Yosvani Peraza), was 8th in RBI (32), led in walks (six more than Despaigne), ranked fourth in average (behind José Miguel Fernández, Abreu and Dairon Varona), was 4th in slugging (behind Abreu, Despaigne and Yasmani Tomás) and was second to Abreu in OBP. He was an All-Star outfielder alongside Varona and Despaigne. In the second half, he hit .331/?/.559 with 46 walks and 45 runs.
He was Cuba's top offensive performer in the 2013 World Baseball Classic (.474/.615/.895, 7 R, 5 RBI, 7 BB in 6 G). He came up empty in the biggest situation - with a spot in the final four at stake and a 6-6 tie against the Netherlands, he came to bat with men on the corners and one out but fanned against Loek van Mil. For the Classic, he tied for second in runs (with José Miguel Fernández, José Reyes, Kalian Sams and Alex Ríos), tied Despaigne and Reyes for 4th in total bases (17), tied for fourth in doubles (3), tied Hanley Ramírez for second in walks (two shy of Carlos Santana), was 4th in slugging (between Justin Morneau and Adrián González) and was 4th in OPS (between Adrián González and Despaigne). He was left off the All-Star team at DH in favor of Hirokazu Ibata.
Cepeda hit .252/.438/.437 with 48 walks in 45 games in the first half of the 2013-2014 Serie Nacional, fielding .867 in left for Sancti Spiritus. He was second in doubles (17, two behind Maikel Caceres) and in walks (two behind Despaigne). Despite being far off his past levels of production, he was the first pick in the redistribution draft for the second half, moving to Artemisa. He hit .341/.484/.659 with 10 homers in 123 at-bats, drawing 52 walks, in a stellar second half and was named the All-Star DH. He finished the total season at .292/.484/.536 with 26 doubles in 85 games. He was on the leaderboard in doubles (two behind Caceres), home runs (13, 3rd, behind Gourriel and Reutilio Hurtado), total bases (147, 4th, between Ariel Sánchez and Yadiel Hernández), walks (1st, 22 over Paumier) and slugging (4th, between Despaigne and Enríquez).
After the season, he signed with the Yomiuri Giants in Nippon Pro Baseball, for $1.5 million and one season. It was part of a new, more liberal Cuban policy to athletes playing abroad; Despaigne was starting his second season in the Mexican League at the time. Cepeda became only the second Cuban with permission to play in NPB, following Omar Linares by 10 years. Other Cubans had been allowed to play in Europe in the 1990s and early 21st Century as well, but Japan was a much bigger stage. His debut in Japan would depend on how quickly visa issues were resolved. He made his debut on May 15 as Yomiuri's cleanup man and left fielder. He grounded out against Ryohei Kiya in the first. He got his first NPB hit in the 3rd, a RBI single off Kiya to score Hayato Sakamoto. He drew a walk in the 5th then fanned in the 7th to end his day. He struggled in Japan in 2014, hitting only .194/.333/.389 in 132 plate appearances and fielding .947. He did have six homers in 108 at-bats and drew 23 walks. Two other NPB stars (Gourriel and Despaigne) followed him to Japan that year and did much better.
Despite his struggles in Japan, he still got the nod for the Cuban squad for the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games and they won their first major international tournament in years, since the 2010 Intercontinental Cup. He did well as Cuba's DH, hitting .353/.476/.824 with two homers, five runs and four RBI in five games, including 2 for 3 with a run and a RBI in the Gold Medal game win over Nicaragua. He was third in the event in slugging (behind Manuel Hernández and Javier Dominguez), tied for 9th in RBI, tied for 4th in runs (with Francisco Lindor, Yosvani Alarcón and Mayeta), was 10th in average and tied for second in homers (with Víctor Méndez and Pedro Feliz, behind Manuel Hernández).
He then starred in the 2015 Caribbean Series, going 8 for 17 with two doubles, a triple, a run and 7 RBI in five games as Cuba won its first Caribbean Series since 1960. He especially came up big in the semifinal win over the then-unbeaten Caribes de Anzoátegui with a two-run double off Tiago Da Silva and a three-run triple against Richard Salazar in a 8-4 comeback win. He drove in the first run in the 3-2 finale win over the Tomateros de Culiacán, singling off Anthony Vasquez to score Gourriel. He led the Series in RBI (two ahead of Alexi Amarista), tied for the doubles lead, was second to Leury García in average, led in total bases, tied for first in hits, led in slugging, tied for third in OBP and was second in OPS (behind Leury García). He was named Caribbean Series MVP, the first Cuban to win since Ray Noble in 1956 (Solly Drake and Norm Cash had won playing for Cuban teams in 1957 and 1959).
Cepeda saw limited time in 2014-2015 but hit well - .325/.509/.550 in 13 first-half games for Sancti Spiritus and .380/.466/.600 in 13 second-half games for Artemisa. He was 0 for 21 with 7 walks, a run and a RBI for Yomiuri in 2015. He was Cuba's main DH in the 2015 Pan American Games, producing at a .231/.394/.500 clip with 7 walks and 7 runs in 7 games. He was third in the event in walks (behind Casey Kotchman and Jordan Lennerton) and tied for 5th in runs. In the semifinals, he homered off Aaron Blair and later walked and scored; with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the 9th, though, he flew out against David Huff in a 6-5 loss to the US. Hitting 5th in the Bronze Medal game, he was 0 for 3 with a walk in a 7-6 win over Puerto Rico.
- 2003-2008 Baseball Almanacs
- Defunct IBAF site
- A History of Cuban Baseball by Peter Bjarkman
- World Baseball Classic site
- Japanese wikipedia
- 2008 Olympics
- Central American and Caribbean Games
- COPABE website
- 2011 Baseball World Cup Final Report
- 2011 Pan American Games
- Haarlem Baseball Week
- 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games
- 2015 Caribbean Series
- 2015 Pan American Games
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