Luis Zayas

From BR Bullpen

Luis Zayas Travieso

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 8", Weight 160 lb.

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

Luis Zayas spent parts of two seasons in AAA during a 11-season minor league career. He later managed in Cuba.

Zayas debuted with a bang in 1955, playing for the Nogales Yaquis (.368/.445/.585, 15 SB, 35 R in 46 G) and Mexico City Red Devils (.364/.497/.523, 36 BB, 49 R in 38 G). Had he qualified, he would have been second in the Arizona-Mexico League in average and 6th in the Mexican League. In the winter of 1955-1956, he played briefly for the Havana Reds in the Cuban Winter League. Zayas hit 34 home runs and 9 triples for Nogales in 1956, batting .328 and slugging .628. He tied for fourth in the high-flying Arizona-Mexico League in homers and tied for 7th in triples.

In the 1957 season, he joined the Cincinnati Redlegs chain and banged out 49 doubles between the Wenatchee Chiefs (.304/.401/.466, 64 R, 18 SB in 80 G) and Clovis Redlegs (.387/.496/.613 in 47 G). Even though Clovis withdrew from the Southwestern League in mid-May, he still made the league's top 10 with 26 doubles. In that department, he nearly made the Northwest League's top 10 as well. He struggled in his only season as a starter in his homeland, hitting .219 and slugging .329 as the second baseman for Havana. The summer of 1958 was no better, as he was 7 for 50 with 2 doubles and a homer for the Savannah Redlegs and hit .219/.338/.329 for the Havana Sugar Kings (splitting second base with Yo-Yo Davalillo.

In the winter of 1958-1959, Zayas was 2 for 17 as a backup infielder for Cienfuegos. In '59, he was 5 for 42 with 8 walks for the Montreal Royals and batted .290/.376/.415 for the Monterrey Sultans. He would spend the remainder of his playing career in Mexico, remaining there for several years after the Cuban Revolution. While players who remained in the US after the Revolution were blacklisted in Cuba, those active in Mexico were given a chance to wind out their careers.

Zayas produced at a .305/.406/.449 clip for the 1960 Mexico City Tigers, with 97 runs, 31 doubles, 77 walks, 109 RBI and 30 steals (in 37 tries) for an impressive all-around campaign. He was three doubles behind leader and countrymate Juan Delis (and one ahead of Orlando Leroux, another player who would later manage in Cuba) and led the Mexican League in swipes. He was the fourth outfielder for the Havana club in 1960-1961, hitting .235 and slugging .294 in the final CWL season. In 1961, he hit .280/.374/.380 with 28 steals in 39 attempts. He again led the LMB in steals.

In 1962, he struggled in his third year with the Tigers, at .247/.315/.327. He split 1963 between the Tigers and the Reynosa Broncos and was resurgent with a batting line of .281/.352/.451, 90 runs, 15 home runs and 30 steals (caught 9 times). He led the league in steals for the third time and also led in outfield assists (13). He ranked fifth in runs. He played one full year with Reynosa, still productive in 1964 at .310/.391/.461. Overall, he had batted .295/.384/.432 with 437 runs, 333 RBI and 118 steals in 152 tries in 663 games in the Mexican League. He was not quite done in the minor leagues, though, appearing for the Campeche Pirates in the 1966 Mexican Southeast League and batting .206/.338/.289, a shadow of his former self. His defense was atrocious (30 errors, almost triple any other outfielder in the league, a .846 fielding percentage) but he could still run (14 SB, 3 CS) and draw walks (65 in 98 games).

Zayas guided the Metropolitanos to a 28-21 record in 1977-1978 and Isla de la Juventud to a 12-39 record in 1979-1980 (the team's third season and their best to that point after seasons of 10-41 and 10-40) and was a technical commissioner in Cuban baseball into the 21st Century. In 2009, he participated in a US-Cuban Old Time Senior Softball Tournament to use sports for diplomacy.