From BR Bullpen
Bárbaro Rafael Cañizares Riveron
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 210 lb.
 Biographical Information
Cañizares hit .348 with 13 homers in the 2000-2001 Serie Nacional. He was 0 for 11 in the 2001 World Port Tournament for the winning Cuban team. Moving to the Industriales the next year, he drove in 61 runs, second on the club to Kendry Morales. Cañizares tied Frederich Cepeda and Ariel Borrero for the Super Liga RBI lead in 2002 with 19. He was added to the Cuban national team for the 2002 Intercontinental Cup and had an excellent tournament, hitting .412/.524/.794 with 4 doubles, 3 homers, 7 walks, 9 runs and 11 RBI in 10 games at DH. He was 8th in the tournament in average, tied Ronny Paulino for 6th in home runs, tied Luis Iglesias for second in hits behind Michel Enriquez and tied Cepeda, Jhensy Sandoval and Feng-An Tsai for third in RBI (11), trailing Yobal Dueñas and Morales. In the Gold Medal game, he doubled twice and scored a run in Cuba's 2-1 win over South Korea. He was named to the tourney All-Star Team at DH and also won MVP honors.
Cañizares hit .318 with 66 walks in the 2002-2003 Serie Nacional for the title-winning Industriales. He was suspended on the eve of the 2003 Baseball World Cup and left off the Cuban national team roster. When he tried to defeat the next year, he was banned from Cuban baseball. He defected in February of 2004, his 4th attempt to do so. He then spent a year trying to establish citizenship abroad.
Cañizares had hit .298/.397/.423 in 10 years in Cuba.
Cañizares signed with the Indios de Bóer of the Nicaraguan League for 2005-2006 and led the league in average (.352), hits (68) and runs (42) and tied for the most doubles (13). He was named to the League All-Star team as an outfielder. The Atlanta Braves signed him based on his performance. Cañizares, whose birthdate had been listed as November 21, 1974 for years, suddenly had a birthdate of November 21, 1979, lying about his age like many Cuban defectors. Even though this did not jibe with someone who had played 10 seasons prior to 2004 (meaning he would have begun playing at age 14) or published materials, the birthdate is still listed in many US sources such as milb.com as of January 2008.
In 2006, Cañizares played well with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (.381/.409/.524 in 6 games) and the Mississippi Braves (.301/.365/.416 in 66 games). Had he qualified, he would have been third in the Southern League in batting average behind Joey Votto and Jamie D'Antona. He played in the SL mid-season All-Star Game.
Cañizares missed much of 2007 due to visa problems. He wound up playing 4 games for the GCL Braves (6 for 11, 4 BB, 1 HR) and 49 for the Richmond Braves, where he was very effective, hitting .344/.390/.491. He spent the winter with the Mayos de Navojoa, batting a disappointing .260/.327/.460.
Cañizares hit .300/.353/.433 for Richmond in 2008 and made the IL All-Star team. He tied for third in the circuit with 151 hits. In the winter, he hit .287 between the Gigantes del Cibao and Aguilas del Zulia. Starting 2009 with the Gwinnett Braves, he was batting .344/.412/.533 after 58 games, with 26 extra-base hits. He was then called up to Atlanta to replace the injured Greg Norton.
Bárbaro debuted in The Show as a cleanup man, going 1 for 4. He struck out against the Pirates' Paul Maholm in his first at-bat and got his first major league hit in the sixth, a single off Maholm. After starting four games and going 4 for 17 (.235) with a double, he was sent back down on June 16th when Casey Kotchman came off the disabled list. He played one more game during the season, finishing 4 for 21 (.190).
In 2011 Bárbaro played with the Yaquis de Obregon for the 2011-12 Mexican Pacific League season. He broke the record for most home runs in the history of the franchise with 20; the previous record was held by Jim Lemon who had hit 19 in the 1955-56 season.
- Defunct IBAF site
- 2005 Guia Official de Beisbol
- A History of Cuban Baseball by Peter Bjarkman
- 2007 Braves Media Guide
- Nicaraguan League website
- Bio at the Richmond Braves website
- 2001 World Port Tournament