03/15/2012 6:05 PM
Maikel Jova hit .321 with 65 RBIs with Chico in 2010.
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. — The San Rafael Pacifics and outfielder Maikel Jova have agreed to terms on a one-year contract for the 2012 season. The 30-year-old Cuban outfielder, who spent six seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, is expected to play a significant role for the Pacifics this season.
Jova arrived in the U.S. in 2001, making his pro debut with the Auburn Doubledays (New York- Pennsylvania, Low-A) and the Charleston AlleyCats (South Atlantic League, Single-A). The outfielder led Auburn with nine homers, 39 RBI, 44 runs scored and 70 base hits. By 2006, he was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse (Toronto, International League) in 2006, but played just 31 games.
In 2007 Jova joined the Yuma Bullfrogs (NABL), where he played for manager Mike Marshall. At the age of 26, Jova batted .318 with four homers and a team-best 67 RBIs while playing in 75 of the team’s 76 games. Jova was second on the team with hits (97), third in doubles (19), and led the Bullfrogs with four triples.
Jova’s numbers improved in ’08, as he led the Bullfrogs with a .359 average, slugged .501, had an on-base percentage of .400. He hit nine homers, drove in a team-best 88 runs and was second on the team in runs (75).
In 2010, Marshall and Jova reunited in Chico (NABL), as Jova played in 72 games with the Outlaws, hitting six homers, driving in 65 runs while hitting .321.
“Mikael is the ultimate pro hitter. Loves to drive in runs,” Marshall said. “Fine young man who risked his life for the chance to play baseball in the U.S.
“(He) always has a big smile and is terrific player. The fans will enjoy watching this former AAA star perform. He has a great chance to be our starting right fielder and hit in the middle of the lineup.”
The 6-foot, 205-pound Jova, a native of Villa Clara, Cuba, first defected from the island in 1998, hoping to pursue a baseball career. But Jova’s 8-foot raft would wash ashore in the Bahamas and the country’s government returned him to Cuba.
Later that year, Jova fled again, and arrived in the Dominican Republic successfully in August. The Blue Jays signed the right-handed hitter for $150,000, and he made his pro debut in 2000 with the Dominican Summer League Blue Jays. There he hit .299 and was third in the league in hits (93), third in RBI (75; five behind Rangers’ Nelson Cruz), fourth in extra-base hits (34), and added 21 doubles, 69 runs, while belting 10 home runs.
Jova is the son of Pedro Jova, a Cuban All-Star shortstop and manager, who hit .317 in 17 seasons in the Cuban National League.