Rolando Viera Mezquia
Rolando Viera pitched eight seasons in the minor leagues and six in his native Cuba.
He played for the Industriales of the Cuban National Series before winning a U.S. visa in 2000. Viera had pitched six seasons in Cuba, going 22-19 with two saves and a 3.42 ERA. In 87 games (48 starts), he pitched 318 1/3 IP, with 200 strikeouts and 131 walks; opponents hit .264 against him.
Viera arrived in the United States in the spring of 2001 and, unlike most defectors, chose not to leave the U.S. for free agency. Viera was drafted in the 7th round of the 2001 Amateur Draft by the Boston Red Sox, one round after Boston took Justin James and one round before Kevin Youkilis.
He spent two years in the Sox farm system, six years in various independent leagues and one season in the Mexican League. He spent 2001 with the Sarasota Red Sox, going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in six outings. In 2002, he was with the Trenton Thunder (5-1, 10 Sv, 4.89 in 45 G) and Pawtucket Red Sox (2 R in 6 2/3 IP).
In 2003-2004, the lefty was with the Newark Bears. The first year, he went 2-2 with a 3.33 ERA but he fell to 1-1, 4.41 the second season. Rolando split 2005 between the Elmira Pioneers (2-3, 2.55) and Tabasco Olmecas (0-1, 6.43). In '06, he spent all year with the Brockton Rox and was sharp at 9-7, 2.65. He was fourth in the Canadian-American Association in ERA but lost All-Star LHP honors to Bryan Morse, who had a better record and lower ERA. He was with both Brockton (11-6, 2.50) and the Camden Riversharks (1-0, 3 R in 6 IP) in 2007. He was second in the Can-Am in wins behind Brian Rodaway, second in ERA (.16 behind John Kelly) and ranked fourth in strikeouts, right behind another foreign player, Akira Okamoto. He again failed to win All-Star honors, with Roadaway being selected despite a ERA .73 higher (Roadaway did have 4 more wins and 3 fewer losses). In 2008, he wrapped up his career with Brockton (2-8, 4.10) and the York Revolution (3-2, 2.98).
Overall, Viera was 36-33 with 10 saves and a 3.37 ERA in the minors, very similar to his career stats in Cuba in both ERA and winning percentage.