Dayron Varona

From BR Bullpen

Dayron Armando Varona Suárez

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 185 lb.

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

Dayron Varona has played in the Cuban Serie Nacional before defecting to the United States.

Varona debuted for Camagüey in 2007-2008, going 8 for 27 with 8 walks and a double; he played every position except first base, shortstop and pitcher. He hit .321/.373/.557 as a bench player in 2008-2009. In 2009-2010, he was Camagüey's starting center fielder and batted .329/.396/.506 with 21 doubles and 55 runs in 88 games. His 12 steals were 6th in the Serie Nacional, between Adonis García and Ramón Tamayo.

Dayron produced at a .298/.377/.462 clip in 2010-2011 and legged out 5 triples, tying him for fifth in the league. In 2011-2012, his game slumped on both ends (.279/.327/.410 at the plate, .928 fielding percentage with 13 errors). Things rebounded in 2012-2013; he hit .373/.425/.533 and finished among the league leaders in hits (tied for 6th with Irait Chirino), total bases (80, tied for 9th with Lorenzo Quintana), average (3rd behind José Miguel Fernández and Jose Dariel Abreu) and slugging (8th, between Carlos Benitez and Adir Ferrán). After the 2013 World Baseball Classic, with Camagüey eliminated, he was reassigned to the Naranjas de Villa Clara and helped them to a title. He was named both an offensive All-Star (joining Alfredo Despaigne and Frederich Cepeda in the outfield) but also a Gold Glove winner (the other outfielders were Lázaro Rodríguez and Guillermo Heredia Jr.).

Varona defected to Haiti by boat in 2013 but it took him a while to get his papers in order to be able to play organized baseball. On May 4, 2015, he finally signed a professional contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. He was first assigned to the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League, where he hit .377 in 15 games, then was promoted to the Montgomery Biscuits of the AA Southern League. He hit .264 in 69 games there, to finish the season with a combined batting line of .286/.324/.477 in 84 games, with 17 doubles, 8 triples and 11 homers. He did well enough to earn an invitation to the Rays spring training as a non-roster player in 2016. He thus became a central part of the Rays' historic visit to his homeland on March 22nd, accompanying President Barack Obama, as the team made sure that he would not only be with the team on that day, but playing right field and leading off the exhibition game against the Cuban national team. It was also his first opportunity to see his family since he had left the island. He was the first player to have defected from Cuba to be able to return to play in a game in the country. He was introduced to an eerie silence in Estadio Latinoamericano, a result of the crowd being formed of persons who had been invited by the régime and not by ordinary Cubans. He led off the game by flying out on the first pitch by Yosvani Torres, but he was cheered when he came out in the 3rd, having gone 0-for-2.


Further Reading[edit]

  • Bill Chastain: "Varona excited about Cuba, focused on Rays: Havana native, non-roster invitee hopes to join team for trip to homeland",, March 2, 2016. [1]
  • Jesse Sanchez: "Varona makes history in return to homeland: Rays Minor Leaguer first defector to play in Cuba",, March 22, 2016. [2]
  • Joe Trezza: "After three years, Varona returns home: Prospect will bat leadoff in Rays' historic game Tuesday",, March 21, 2016. [3]

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