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Duque Hebbert, World Baseball Classic, Nicaragua

Duque Hebbert signs with Tigers after WBC outing

Duque Hebbert strikes out heart of Dominicana's lineup.

Nicaragua has struggled in the World Baseball Classic. They are 0-3 in one of the toughest pools. Yet, these Nicaragüenses have displayed some great hitting, speed, defense, and pitching.

Nicaragua reliever Duque Hebbert shows enough attributes to earn a contract.  

Just ask the Detroit Tigers.

Hebbert came in the ninth inning to face the heart of the Dominican Republic’s lineup Monday at loanDepot park.

The 5-foot-10 right-handed pitcher struck out three-time Silver Slugger Juan Soto and 2022 AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez.

Then 2022 National League MVP finalist Manny Machado hit a double to the left-field warning track. 

The next batter was the 2018 World Series champion Rafael Devers. Hebbert struck him out with an 84 mph changeup to end the inning.

As Hebbert walked down the dugout stairs, he gave his coaches a warm hug and thanked them for the opportunity to pitch in one of the biggest games in his young career.

“Extraordinary, ” Nicaragua’s manager Sandor Guido said about Hebbert facing the Dominican lineup. “That’s one of the positive parts of the game. 

“That young guy is under 23. He showed what he is made of. When you have will, when you have heart, you can do very good things.

“He came and he faced the best players of the team. Except for (Manny) Machado, but it was great what he did, and we are very excited because of that. It’s a good experience for him, and he is going to improve.”

Duque Hebbert, a brief history

The Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, native has never pitched at the minor or major league level. However, he participated in the 2022-23 Nicaraguan Winter League (NICW) with his team, Tren de Norte.

He made his Tren de Norte debut as a 20-year-old. 

In 15 games, Hebbert posted  a 5.40 ERA while pitching 20 innings in relief.  He allowed 19 hits, 12 earned runs, seven walks and 18 strikeouts.

Hebbert was awarded a spot on the Nicaragua roster to participate in the WBC.

Now pitching for the Detroit Tigers…

A Tigers scout attended the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua game. As the score was 6-1 heading to the ninth inning, he saw something in the 170-pound Hebbert. He threw 19 pitches, 14 for strikes, in a scoreless ninth inning. 

Hebbert has a four-pitch arsenal. He was throwing 83-85 mph changeups, 79-80 mph sweeping sliders, and low 89-90 mph fastballs and sinkers.

“My coaches told me that I could throw my best pitch against these batters, which is the change and the sinker,” he said. “I knew that my sinker and my changeup could help me out.”

After the game, Hebbert signed a minor league contract with the Tigers’ organization. 

Duque Hebbert will continue to grow as a 21-year-old. The young prospect now heads to the Tigers’ farm system to increase his velocity and improve on his pitching command.

The WBC isn’t just about being the best country in the world, but it gives opportunities to players who’ve never played on the biggest stage.

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