1871: Ingenieros de Rincón

Three months to the day after La Selección, where over a thousand men from all over the island of Puerto Rico displayed their strength, speed, and skill on temporary fields set up in the capital, the Liga Nacional Puertorriqueña opened the first season of professional baseball played outside the United States.

Along with the other seventy-seven teams in the Liga Nacional that sought to assemble a winning squadron, the Ingenieros de Rincón had several advantages going into these preseason games: days to analyze potential draft picks, a small corps of scouts, and the largest market any team would enjoy for decades.  

They did, however, also share one disadvantage with every other team.

They had absolutely no idea what they were doing. 

team

pitchers

Since there is no extant portrait of Édgar Moreno, this picture shows the entirely hidden face of a mystery player.

ÉDGAR MORENO

#3 — SP

born

10/27/1833

hometown

Bayamón, PR

bats / throws

right / right

drafted

rd. 2 / 86

There is very little available information about Moreno, which is surprising for two reasons: first, his second-round draft position suggests that he was Rincón’s intended staff ace, and second, what is extant shows that Moreno had an extraordinary variety of pitches at his command, although relatively little control over locating them.

A reconstructed portrait of Domingo Quezada. He is wearing a bright white uniform and black cap, which suggests that he was not on any team at the time of the original image.

DOMINGO QUEZADA

#20 — SP

born

03/03/1833

hometown

Ponce, PR

bats / throws

right / right

drafted

rd. 7 / 539

Quezada drew the attention of Rincón’s scouts at the Selección workouts with his unusual sidearm delivery before they even noticed his extensive inventory. Unfortunately, his age, as well as his inability to master any of his various secondary throws, relegated him to a backup role. 

A reconstructed portrait of Miguel Leal in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

MIGUEL LEAL

#15 — RP / 1B

born

09/05/1841

hometown

Mayagüez, PR

bats / throws

switch / right

drafted

rd. 15 / 1163

In the early years of the Liga Nacional, given such small roster sizes, it was not uncommon for teams to prepare a number of position players as emergency pitchers. Leal, who had failed to impress at La Selección with his bat or feet, found enough velocity in his arm to get himself a mid-round pick and a spot with Rincón.

Since there is no extant portrait of Miguel Lugo, this picture shows the entirely hidden face of a mystery player.

MIGUEL LUGO

#23 — RP / 2B

born

07/25/1841

hometown

Toa Baja, PR

bats / throws

right / right

drafted

rd. 17 / 1319

For a 37-year-old man, Lugo showed enough wheels at the Selección games that the Ingenieros felt he was worth a late-round draft pick. Unfortunately, his speed and decent contact hitting were unaccompanied by sufficient power to make him a proper position player, so the Ingenieros slotted him into another emergency pitcher slot. 

infielders

A reconstructed portrait of Juan González in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ

#49 — C

born

06/08/1844

hometown

Bayamón, PR

bats / throws

right / right

drafted

rd. 10 / 710

Nowhere was the Liga Nacional’s complete, if blameless, ignorance of anything beyond the most basic aspects of baseball than in how they treated catchers, who in those years were mainly valuable for their bats and the occasional double play rather than as team leaders and field generals. González, serviceable enough at both, followed this archetype exactly.

A reconstructed portrait of Hugo Moreno in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

HUGO MORENO

#14 — C / R

born

09/30/1838

hometown

Bayamón, PR

bats / throws

right / right

drafted

rd. 24 / 1802

As with his colleague, Moreno was not expected to contribute much to the Ingenieros de Rincón in the way of strategic leadership—which is unfortunate, because he was reported to have a slightly better arm than González, as well as decent defensive instincts. Unfortunately, his weak bat remained a problem for the team, despite his best efforts to demonstrate his value.

A reconstructed portrait of Mauricio Noyola in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

MAURICIO NOYOLA

#18 — 1B

born

03/26/1836

hometown

Bayamón, PR

bats / throws

right / right

drafted

rd. 9 / 695

Noyola was a prototypical run driver: he avoided striking out, could hit well into defensive gaps, and had just enough power to send runners for home even as he ambled over to first. What particularly attracted the scouts, however, was that he fielded first base far better than most other players, despite his lack of speed and general stiffness.

Since there is no extant portrait of Rafael Rodríguez, this picture shows the entirely hidden face of a mystery player.

RAFAEL RODRÍGUEZ

#12 — 2B

born

10/22/1842

hometown

Bayamón, PR

bats / throws

switch / right

drafted

rd. 21 / 1631

Like many of the other men who appeared in the Selección games, Rodríguez was essentially a utility man, in his case covering everything between second and third base plus some time in right field. That variety of positional experience, when coupled with his baserunning instincts, was apparently very attractive to the Ingenieros scouts.

A reconstructed portrait of Alfredo Vargas in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

ALFREDO VARGAS

#6 — 2B

born

08/27/1834

hometown

Mayagüez, PR

bats / throws

right / right

drafted

rd. 4 / 242

Vargas was chosen in an early round for three main reasons: he showed excellent contact hitting, he displayed decent plate discipline at the Selección games, and his fielding, while suboptimal, was not sufficiently dreadful to pass him up. Middle infielders of the 1870s were not especially known for their consistency with the glove, after all.

A reconstructed portrait of Víctor Vélez in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

VÍCTOR VÉLEZ

#11 — 2B

born

02/22/1841

hometown

Manatí, PR

bats / throws

left / right

drafted

rd. 14 / 1022

Vélez had two important differences from most of his teammates: one, he was in his early thirties, and two, he was not from Bayamón. Also unlike most of his teammates, he was explicitly a project of whatever the Ingenieros de Rincón had for a front office in those days, as he displayed no unusual ability other than not bobbling easy ground balls.

A reconstructed portrait of Jesús Cepeda in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

JESÚS CEPEDA

#4 — 3B

born

03/25/1838

hometown

Ceiba, PR

bats / throws

right / right

drafted

rd. 6 / 398

In a time of minor leagues and extensive player development, Cepeda would have become a fearsome rookie infielder in no time, given his power hitting and slow, but oddly compelling, baserunning. Unfortunately, as a graduate of La Selección, he barely had the time needed to develop into more than a marginal fielder.

A reconstructed portrait of Omar Contreras in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

OMAR CONTRERAS

El Veloz

#26 — SS

born

03/01/1837

hometown

Bayamón, PR

bats / throws

right / right

drafted

rd. 1 / 71

The Ingenieros de Rincón were one of four teams to choose someone other than a starting pitcher with their first pick. In their case, it was Contreras, who rewarded their confidence by turning out to be an extraordinarily gifted contact hitter and baserunner, if an indifferent shortstop who could have used a little more pop at the plate.

outfielders

A reconstructed portrait of Pascual Crespo in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

PASCUAL CRESPO

#10 — LF

born

12/22/1833

hometown

San Juan, PR

bats / throws

left / left

drafted

rd. 12 / 866

If the Ingenieros did not trust Crespo to be a major part of their offense, as suggested by how long they waited to draft him, they must not have watched his pre-Selección games. Despite his small, slight frame, Crespo demonstrated phenomenal capabilities at the plate and on the basepaths, albeit somewhat counteracted by his execrable fielding.

A reconstructed portrait of Efraín Rodríguez. He is wearing a blank uniform and black cap, which suggests that he was not on any team at the time of the portrait.

EFRAÍN RODRÍGUEZ

#5 — CF

born

06/13/1830

hometown

Hormigueros, PR

bats / throws

left / left

drafted

rd. 3 / 227

Most teams—even those going decidedly against the grain—would not have spent their third-round pick on a 40-year-old who presented a significant risk of injury and had, at best, a middling bat. Inexplicably, however, what little survives of the Ingenieros’ notes implies that they considered Rodríguez a “high-potential” pick.

A reconstructed portrait of Francisco Guerrero in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

FRANCISCO GUERRERO

#43 — RF

born

03/09/1845

hometown

Añasco, PR

bats / throws

left / left

drafted

rd. 16 / 1178

Guerrero was the youngest of the players the Ingenieros drafted in la Selección, if only by a year. Like most of the younger men, he excelled in the more physical aspects of the sport, showing a propensity for barreling pitches, stealing bases, and throwing from deep in the outfield—none of which got him a starting job on the roster.

A reconstructed portrait of Víctor Nieves in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

VÍCTOR NIEVES

#13 — RF

born

12/07/1842

hometown

Carolina, PR

bats / throws

left / left

drafted

rd. 8 / 554

Very few outfielders in the 1870s played anything resembling good defense. In this, Nieves was no exception—but he was decent enough that he could usually counteract a bad day on the field with his excellent all-around hitting, which had a combination of power, contact, and discipline few players in the entire league matched.

Since there is no extant portrait of Jorge Parra, this picture shows the entirely hidden face of a mystery player.

JORGE PARRA

#28 — RF

born

06/13/1833

hometown

Carolina, PR

bats / throws

right / right

drafted

rd. 13 / 1007

In a hypothetical Selección that had involved analysis of reams of data, Parra—a 37-year-old whose only distinguishing factor was fair contact—would have likely gone undrafted, or in the late rounds at best. Luckily for him, however, he showed off a strong throwing arm in the Selección games.

 

 

Exactamente tres meses después de la Selección, donde más de mil hombres puertorriqueños vinieron de toda la isla a campos provisionales en la capital para demostrar su fuerza, su velocidad, y sus destrezas, la Liga Nacional Puertorriqueña comenzó la primera temporada de béisbol profesional afuera de los Estados Unidos.

Los Ingenieros de Rincón compartían varias ventajas con los otros 77 equipos mientras asistían a estos juegos de pretemporada para construir un pelotón triunfante. Tenían varios días para analizar selecciones posibles, un cuerpo de cazatalentos, aunque pequeño, y un mercado mucho más amplio de lo que tendrían en las siguientes décadas.

También, sin embargo, compartían una desventaja con todos los otros equipos.

No tenían ni la más mínima idea de lo que hacían.

equipo

lanzadores

Since there is no extant portrait of Édgar Moreno, this picture shows the entirely hidden face of a mystery player.

ÉDGAR MORENO

#3 — LT

nacido

27/10/1833

pueblo natal

Bayamón, PR

batea / tira

diestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 2 / 86

Los escasos datos disponibles sobre Moreno demuestran que, aunque un poco torpe con su control, tenía una variedad extraordinaria de lanzamientos, lo que tal vez le valió su selección de lanzador estrella en la segunda ronda. Sorprende que no haya más información en los archivos.

A reconstructed portrait of Domingo Quezada. He is wearing a bright white uniform and black cap, which suggests that he was not on any team at the time of the original image.

DOMINGO QUEZADA

#20 — LT

nacido

03/03/1833

pueblo natal

Ponce, PR

batea / tira

diestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 7 / 539

El envío peculiar de Quezada, con su brazo al lado del cuerpo, captó la atención de los cazatalentos de Rincón antes de que notaran que disponía de una gran variedad de tiros. Desafortunadamente, tuvo que resignarse al papel de apoyo, tanto por su edad como por su falta de dominio con cualquiera de sus lanzamientos secundarios.

A reconstructed portrait of Miguel Leal in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

MIGUEL LEAL

#15 — LR / 1B

nacido

05/09/1841

pueblo natal

Mayagüez, PR

batea / tira

ambidiestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 15 / 1163

Dado los equipos pequeños de los primeros años de la Liga Nacional, no era raro ver que un equipo preparara ciertos jugadores para ejercer el cargo de lanzador de emergencia. Al no poder impresionar a los buscadores en la selección con su bate o su agilidad, Leal encontró suficiente velocidad en su brazo para recibir una selección de ronda intermedia y una posición con los Ingenieros. 

Since there is no extant portrait of Miguel Lugo, this picture shows the entirely hidden face of a mystery player.

MIGUEL LUGO

#23 — LR / 2B

nacido

25/07/1841

pueblo natal

Toa Baja, PR

batea / tira

diestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 17 / 1319

El otro lanzador de emergencia para los Ingenieros, Lugo tuvo que subirse al montículo cuando quedó claro que su destreza de buen contacto y su velocidad, que resultó sorprendente para un novato de 37 años, no venían acompañados de suficiente fuerza para merecerse más que una selección tardía.

jugadores de cuadro

A reconstructed portrait of Juan González in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ

#49 — R

nacido

08/06/1844

pueblo natal

Bayamón, PR

batea / tira

diestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 10 / 710

González, quien tenía un bate bastante útil y a veces lograba fusilar a corredores enemigos, era el prototipo exacto de un receptor de la Liga Novata. La ignorancia de los equipos en esos años era total, aunque inocente, y no tenía aspecto más obvio que en su tratamiento de los receptores, quienes todavía no eran generales.

A reconstructed portrait of Hugo Moreno in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

HUGO MORENO

#14 — R

nacido

30/09/1838

pueblo natal

Bayamón, PR

batea / tira

diestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 24 / 1802

Moreno no logró demostrar mucho valor después de ser seleccionado. Aunque se dice que tenía mejor brazo que González y buenos instintos a la defensiva, su destreza era tan mínima con el bate que ni pudo contribuir lo poco que esperaban los Ingenieros de Rincón de su liderazgo estratégico. 

A reconstructed portrait of Mauricio Noyola in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

MAURICIO NOYOLA

#18 — 1B

nacido

26/03/1836

pueblo natal

Bayamón, PR

batea / tira

diestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 9 / 695

Noyola era remolcador prototípico: era dificilísimo poncharlo, lanzaba la bola entre defensores, y aunque no tenía fuerza de biangulares, sí tenía para mandar a sus compañeros al plato. Lo que atrajo a los buscadores, sin embargo, es que a pesar de su lentitud y rigidez, defendía su base mucho mejor que sus colegas. 

Since there is no extant portrait of Rafael Rodríguez, this picture shows the entirely hidden face of a mystery player.

RAFAEL RODRÍGUEZ

#12 — 2B

nacido

22/10/1842

pueblo natal

Bayamón, PR

batea / tira

ambidiestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 21 / 1631

El equipo de reclutamiento de los Ingenieros valoraban la variedad de experiencia defensiva más que nada. Rodríguez, quien podía hacer de campocorto y guardabosque derecho además de segunda y tercera base, y tenía buenos instintos como corredor, era la quintaesencia de los jugadores en la Selección.

A reconstructed portrait of Alfredo Vargas in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

ALFREDO VARGAS

#6 — 2B

nacido

27/08/1834

pueblo natal

Mayagüez, PR

batea / tira

diestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 4 / 242

Hay tres razones principales para la selección temprana de Vargas: daba contacto limpio, tenía bastante disciplina en el cajón, y aunque no era buen defensor, por lo menos no era tan malo que se podía dejar pasar. Los cuadros intermedios de los años 1870 no se hacían famosos con sus guantes.  

A reconstructed portrait of Víctor Vélez in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

VÍCTOR VÉLEZ

#11 — 2B

nacido

22/02/1841

pueblo natal

Manatí, PR

batea / tira

zurdo / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 14 / 1022

En la Selección, Vélez demostró, como única destreza especial, una tendencia a no enmantequillarse con los roletazos. Eso le valió suficiente a los Ingenieros de Rincón para hacer de él un proyecto para los que pensaban ser los directivos en esos años, ya que ni tenía más de 35 años ni era oriundo de Bayamón. 

A reconstructed portrait of Jesús Cepeda in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

JESÚS CEPEDA

#4 — 3B

nacido

25/03/1838

pueblo natal

Ceiba, PR

batea / tira

diestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 6 / 398

Si Cepeda hubiera nacido en otra época, cuando las ligas menores le proveerían oportunidades para convertirse en un buen defensor, habría sido un temible cuadreño dentro de pocos años. Como alumno de la Selección, sólo tuvo tiempo para desarrollar su bate forzoso y su manera de correr las bases, que aunque lenta tenía cierta presencia.

A reconstructed portrait of Omar Contreras in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

OMAR CONTRERAS

El Veloz

#26 — CC

nacido

01/03/1837

pueblo natal

Bayamón, PR

batea / tira

diestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 1 / 71

Los Ingenieros de Rincón fueron uno de cuatro equipos que no eligieron su lanzador titular con su primera selección. En su caso, fue Contreras, quien se mereció tanta confianza al ser un bate excelente de contacto y corredor de bases, aunque también campocorto indiferente sin mucha fuerza en el cajón.

guardabosques

A reconstructed portrait of Pascual Crespo in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

PASCUAL CRESPO

#10 — GI

nacido

22/12/1833

pueblo natal

San Juan, PR

batea / tira

zurdo / zurdo

seleccionado

rd. 12 / 866

Si los Ingenieros no pensaban que Crespo sería gran parte de su artillería, lo que explicaría por qué esperaron tanto para seleccionarlo, sería porque no lo habían visto jugar. A pesar de su figura delgada, demostró capacidades fenomenales con el bate y entre las bases, un poco contrarrestadas por su mala defensa.

A reconstructed portrait of Efraín Rodríguez. He is wearing a blank uniform and black cap, which suggests that he was not on any team at the time of the portrait.

EFRAÍN RODRÍGUEZ

#5 — GC

nacido

13/06/1830

pueblo natal

Hormigueros, PR

batea / tira

zurdo / zurdo

seleccionado

rd. 3 / 227

Lo poco que sobrevive de las notas de los Ingenieros indica que Rodríguez era una selección “con mucho potencial.” Es inexplicable cuando ningún otro equipo en la Liga Nacional Puertorriqueña—incluyendo aquellos que se fueron a contrapelo—no gastaron sus terceras rondas eligiendo bateadores pasables de 40 años con riesgo serio de lesiones. 

A reconstructed portrait of Francisco Guerrero in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

FRANCISCO GUERRERO

#43 — GD

nacido

09/03/1845

pueblo natal

Añasco, PR

batea / tira

zurdo / zurdo

seleccionado

rd. 16 / 1178

Como la mayoría de los jugadores más jóvenes en el primer año de la Liga Nacional, Guerrero—el más joven de los seleccionados en Rincón—se distinguía en los aspectos más físicos del deporte. Le daba duro a la bola, robaba bases fácilmente, y podía tirar desde lo más profundo del bosque.

A reconstructed portrait of Víctor Nieves in home whites and, as a flourish, a cap with the logo of the Ingenieros de Rincón.

VÍCTOR NIEVES

#13 — GD

nacido

07/12/1842

pueblo natal

Carolina, PR

batea / tira

zurdo / zurdo

seleccionado

rd. 8 / 554

Nieves, como la mayoría de los guardabosques de los años 1870, no era gran defensor—pero a diferencia de sus colegas de puesto, por lo menos podía contrarrestar cualquier error que cometiera con batazos excelentes, ya que sus destrezas en el cajón incluían una rara combinación fuerza, exactitud, y disciplina.

Since there is no extant portrait of Jorge Parra, this picture shows the entirely hidden face of a mystery player.

JORGE PARRA

#28 — GD

nacido

13/06/1833

pueblo natal

Carolina, PR

batea / tira

diestro / diestro

seleccionado

rd. 13 / 1007

Parra tuvo la suerte de demostrar la fuerza de su brazo en los juegos anteriores a la Selección, pues fue ese cañón que le valió un escaño con los Ingenieros en las rondas intermedias. Con más información, los equipos de la Liga Nacional hubieran concluido que tenía 37 años y su única distinción era cierta destreza en hacer contacto.

Comment away! / Dale, ¡di algo!

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