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This might be a name you've heard of before, or you might be saying "who?", but this is a name you could certainly be seeing come September. Canizares defected from Cuba along with Los Angeles Angel Kendry Morales in 2004. Both were stars in the Cuban pro league and Canizares spent at least a bit of time playing with Yunel Escobar in Cuba. The two had been banned from Cuban baseball earlier after being arrested for a failed attempt and Canizares made four attempts before finally being successful. The two defected through Nicaragua and playing in the Winter League there is what really put both on the map for MLB organizations. Canizares was mostly catching in Nicaragua and after a strong performance with the bat, was rumored to be going to either the Mets or the Yankees. The Braves however signed him to a deal before the 2006 season.
Canizares' listed birthday is 11/21/79 but Cuban records have his birth year listed as 1974, making him 32 or 33 years old. He was a catcher in Cuba, but at 6'3" 225 lbs, over 30 years old, and with suspect defense he became a DH and first baseman in Nicaragua and in the minors. After hitting just above .300 last year mostly with Mississippi, Canizares has really made a name for himself this year due to his performance with Richmond. He experienced visa problems at the beginning of May and just returned to Richmond on August 1st. In the eight games since he returned, Canizares is batting .613 with one home run, four doubles, and ten RBI's in 31 at bats and is batting .414 overall in his 87 at bats with Richmond.
As a 33-year old first baseman with poor defense and not a ton of power, Canizares does not have a future starting in the majors. That doesn't mean however that he could not become a valuable bat off the bench. He has decent plate discipline, can hit for average, and has some pop in the bat, plus he absolutely destroys left-handed pitching (1.405 OPS vs. Left-Handers). If the team trades Thorman during the off-season or at some point just moves on without him, Canizares is a guy that the team will probably take a look at. I'd love to see what he could do against major league pitching.