- ESPN baseball reporter. Covered the L.A. Rams for ESPN from 2016 to 2018 and the L.A. Angels for MLB.com from 2012 to 2016.
MIAMI — Team Nicaragua lost to the Dominican Republic during pool-play at the World Baseball Classic on Monday, but one of its pitchers won in a big way.
Duque Hebbert, a 21-year-old right-hander who’s listed at 5-foot-9, struck out MLB superstars Juan Soto, Julio Rodriguez and Rafael Devers in the ninth inning of Nicaragua’s 6-1 loss and earned himself a contract with the Detroit Tigers in the process.
One of the Tigers’ scouts, Luis Molina, found Hebbert as he was leaving LoanDepot Park, asked him a handful of questions and signed him to a minor league contract, said Nicaraguan Athletics Federation press officer Carlos Alfaro Leon. An announcement was made on the bus in front of the whole team.
Hebbert, who also gave up a double to the hot-hitting Manny Machado in his lone inning of work, used mostly low 90s sinkers, mid-80s changeups and low-90s sliders to strike out the side. Team Nicaragua manager Sandor Guido called it “extraordinary.”
“He showed what he is made of,” Guido said through an interpreter. “When you have will, when you have heart, you can do very good things.”
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