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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Winter league congratulates Espada for being named Houston Astros manager

Josué “Joe” Espada in his playing days.

By The Star Staff

The Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (LBPRC by its Spanish initials) offered congratulations earlier this week to former Puerto Rican player Josué “Joe” Espada for being named manager of the Houston Astros for next Major League Baseball season.

“Joe Espada’s appointment is more than deserved because his performance has demonstrated his great value within the Houston Astros organization,” said LBPRC President Juan A. Flores Galarza, who was joined by the winter league’s board of directors in congratulating Espada. “Finally, justice is done to an excellent professional who has demonstrated his ability to be a successful leader.”

“This appointment makes us proud and motivates us to continue offering in our LBPRC the vehicle so that Puerto Ricans continue to stand out and open doors in the MLB in all facets of professional baseball,” Flores Galarza added.

Espada, 48, was introduced as manager of the Astros on Monday, replacing Dusty Baker, who retired last month. He is the franchise’s second Latino manager, according to an Associated Press report. Preston Gómez, a native of Cuba, was Houston’s manager in 1974 and 1975, Espada’s birth year.

Espada, who had been an Astros bench coach since 2018 after coaching stints with the Florida/Miami Marlins and the New York Yankees, was active in the LBPRC in different facets. As a player, he was on the rosters of the defunct Vaqueros de Bayamón, the Cangrejeros de Santurce and the Gigantes de Carolina. He was named “Rookie of the Year” in the 1997-98 season, the year he played for Santurce.

Espada’s career league batting average was .278, with 252 hits in 908 at-bats in 280 games. He hit 31 doubles, seven triples and eight home runs.

The Santurce-born Espada was a second-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics in 1996 and spent nine seasons in the minor leagues as a shortstop and second baseman, advancing as far as Triple-A before retiring as a player, according to AP.

In leadership roles in the LBPRC, Espada was the manager of the Atenienses de Manatí in the 2012-2013 season, and of the Gigantes in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons. He was also a manager of Team Palillo, one of the LBPRC All-Star teams in 2015.

The Astros advanced to the American League Championship Series for the seventh straight time in October, when they were eliminated by the Texas Rangers in seven games. They won their second World Series title in 2022.

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