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Saturday, September 9, 2023

Willie Canate made bigs over 1 season, also saw World Series

Willie Canate 1990 Watertown Indians card

New Blue Jay Willie Canate wasn't expecting to play in this July 1993 game, but, in the end, he helped his team win, The Associated Press wrote.

Canate came off the bench due to injury to tie the game with a single early and then hit his first major league home run to win the game late, The AP wrote.

"I was happy because the start wasn't anticipated," Canate told The AP, through an interpreter. "I'm just thrilled to death to be able to help the team win. Hopefully this will lead to more opportunities to play."

Canate did get some more opportunities to play, including one brief appearance later that year in the World Series. But his major league career proved confined to that single season.

Canate's career began in 1989, signed by the Indians as a free agent out of his native Venezuela.

Canate started with the Indians in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He moved to short-season Watertown for 1990 and then single-A Columbus and high-A Kinston in 1991.

Canate returned to Columbus for all of 1992. He hit .316 in 133 games. He then arrived with the Blue Jays for 1993, by way of the Reds. 

Canate saw 19 games in the minors in 1993 between AAA Indianapolis with the Reds and AA and AAA with the Blue Jays. 

That spring, The Cincinnati Enquirer spoke to team officials about his prospects for making the majors, and his MVP offseason in the Venezuelan League.

"Sure, we'd love to have him back," Indians director of baseball operations Dan O'Dowd told The Enquirer of the Reds' Rule 5 pick. "We think he's a few years away and it'd be tough for a team, particularly a contender, to keep him."

But Canate did land with a contender, the Blue Jays, as they quickly purchased his contract. He debuted in Toronto April 16. He ended up seeing 36 games that year with the Blue Jays. He hit .213, with that one home run.

That October, as the Blue Jays went on to the title, he didn't play in the ALCS, but got one appearance in the World Series. He appeared as a pinch runner in Game 5, getting tagged out in a rundown toward home.

Canate returned to the minors for 1994. He played at AAA Syracuse and AA Knoxville. He then saw AAA Syracuse again in 1995. He's then recorded as playing in Mexico in 1997 and then later in Italy from 2002 to 2006, with Modena and then Parma, to end his career.

Willie Canate 1990 Watertown Indians card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,217
Made the Majors:1,384-32.8%-X
Never Made Majors:2,833-67.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:562
10+ Seasons in the Minors:345

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