Since 1955, when Milwaukee Braves relief pitcher Humberto Robinson became the first Panamanian to reach the majors, the Central American country of Panama has sent more than 60 players to the game’s highest level.
From Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Mariano Rivera to All-Stars Manny Sanguillen, Ben Oglivie, Roberto Kelly, Carlos Lee and Carlos Ruiz, Panama has produced a range of stars and mainstays on winning clubs.
This year, five Panama natives appeared on MLB Opening Day rosters. Although Panama lacks the raw numbers of some Latin American countries, it’s produced more than its share of standout contributors and World Series champions.
Jonathan Araúz, a native of Alanje, Panama, was 16 years old when he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an international free agent in 2014. He spent the 2015 season as an infielder in the Phillies’ minor-league system before going to Houston as part of a seven-player trade. After three seasons with the Astros, Araúz was selected by Boston in the December 2019 Rule 5 draft.
Araúz made his big-league debut during the shortened 2020 season and collected his first MLB hit against Tampa Bay on Aug. 10. After hitting .250 in 72 at-bats, he's looking for a more prominent role in 2021.