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Countries that have produced the most MLB players

  • Countries that have produced the most MLB players

    Fifty-six countries have sent players to Major League Baseball in the United States. Some, like Mexico and the Dominican Republic, are obvious, given the strong culture of baseball in those nations. But soccer strongholds like Germany and Ireland have produced their share of baseball talent, as well. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, European nations were a prime source for baseball player imports, but several have had dry spells in recent times. And while some countries like Taiwan have shown extended success at the youth level of baseball, it has not always translated into an abundance of pros in the majors.

    Today, interest in baseball in Latin America continues to skyrocket, while some Caribbean nations are making more and more inroads. On Opening Day this season, 251 international players were listed on rosters for the 30 MLB teams—that's 28.5% of all active players. That number was the third-highest in league history, with the Dominican Republic boasting 102 players, the most of any foreign market (nine countries had one player, including Brazil and Lithuania). Overall, 20 countries claimed players on Opening Day rosters, and the Minnesota Twins and Pittsburgh Pirates led the majors with 14 internationally born players.

    Using Baseball Reference data as of April 17, 2019, Stacker ranked the countries that have produced the most MLB players. In ascending order, these countries are ranked by the number of all-time MLB players who were born there. With events like the World Baseball Classic and baseball returning to the Summer Olympics in 2020, national pride is taking on new meaning among players in the majors, whether it's Ozzie Albies representing Curaçao or Xander Bogaerts keeping his Aruba roots alive.

    Here, click through to see just how Chinese-Panamanians, Korean adoptees, and even a ballplayer named Pretzel have helped make baseball among the most diverse sports played around the world.

    You may also like: MLB home run leader from the year you were born

  • #25: Aruba

    - Number of players: 5

    It's rare that scouts visited Aruba, so in 2009, when representatives from the Boston Red Sox came looking for players, Xander Bogaerts left bed for the first time in weeks and ignored ailments stemming from chicken pox to head to the local field. The rest is history, as Bogaerts has become the standout player to emerge from the island, winning two World Series rings in Boston. Aruba does not have an extensive history in sports; most of its Olympians have been swimmers or competed in judo, and no Aruban has ever won a medal.

  • #24: Bahamas

    - Number of players: 6

    Andre Rodgers was the first Bahamian to reach the majors in 1957, but the Caribbean country has not had an extensive history in baseball. Rodgers lasted 11 years, the most of any players from the Bahamas, batting .249 for his career. Cricket is the sport of choice on the island, though current NBA player Buddy Hield hails from Freeport.

  • #22: Italy (tie)

    - Number of players: 7

    From 1932 through 1953, six players from Italy reached the majors, and then there was a nearly 60-year gap before Alex Liddi made his debut in 2011. Reno Bertoia, who spent most of his career with the Detroit Tigers, leads all players from Italy with 10 major league seasons. And while soccer is king in Italy, there have been several notable Italian-American baseball stars; Hall of Famer Mike Piazza has worked with Italy in the World Baseball Classic.

  • #22: France (tie)

    - Number of players: 7

    The champions of the 2018 World Cup have had much less to tout on the baseball diamond. Seven players have combined for 29 seasons in the majors, with the most notable name probably Bruce Bochy, who has had more success as a manager. Bochy, who currently calls the shots from the dugout for the San Francisco Giants, has led the franchise to three World Series titles.

  • #21: Russian Federation

    - Number of players: 8

    In 1992, Joe Mantegna starred in an HBO movie, “The Comrades of Summer,” about a former major league manager teaching baseball to a team of bumbling Russians. The film did not inspire many Russians to take up baseball—combining players from Russia and the Ukraine, only eight have reached the majors. Eddie Ainsmith was the longest tenured of them all, playing 15 seasons for five teams.

  • #20: Netherlands

    - Number of players: 12

    While the Dutch have become a European power in soccer, they also have a small, but proud baseball history. Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven was born in the small city of Zeist, and Didi Gregorius hailed from Amsterdam before moving to Curaçao.

  • #18: U.S. Virgin Islands (tie)

    - Number of players: 14

    In recent years, a smattering of players from the U.S. Virgin Islands has reached the majors, including baseball players Jabari Blash and Jharel Cotton. Perhaps the most famous athlete from the islands, though, is five-time NBA champion Tim Duncan, who was born in Saint Croix.

  • #18: Taiwan (tie)

    - Number of players: 14

    Decades ago, Taiwan dominated the Little League World Series, but the nation failed to produce an abundance of pros. All of Taiwan's major leaguers debuted after 2002, with former Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang and All-Star Hung-Chih Kuo the most famous. Recently a documentary, "Late Life: The Chien-Ming Wang Story," followed Wang's attempt at a comeback after he incurred several injuries.

  • #16: Nicaragua (tie)

    - Number of players: 15

    Nicaragua has its own professional baseball league and a rich history in the sport. Dennis Martinez, one of baseball's top pitchers of the 1980s and 1990s, made four All-Star teams and won 245 games. In the country's capital Managua, a stadium bears Martinez's name.

  • #16: Curaçao

    - Number of players: 15

    Curaçao, a sovereign state of the Netherlands located in the Caribbean, has been a recent hotbed for producing talent. Andruw Jones, Ozzie Albies, and Kenley Jansen are some of the All-Stars to hail from Curaçao. The pipeline looks to be solid, as well, as the state has become a mainstay in the Little League World Series.

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