Former Steinert hurler Pugliese named to Puerto Rican National Team for Caribbean Series

Steinert grad James Pugliese shows his form with Cangrejeros de Santurce while pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League this summer. Pugliese’s strong effort landed him on the Puerto Rican National Team, which will play in the Caribbean Series Feb. 4-10. 

By Rich Fisher

Jan. 30: James Pugliese is feeling right at home in Puerto Rico.

So much so, he is sticking around for another two weeks after winning a league championship.

The Steinert High grad learned on Tuesday that he was selected to represent the national team – Team Puerto Rico – in the Caribbean Series from Feb. 4-10 in Panama. It is his latest step toward trying to rejoin a Major League Baseball organization after being released by the Cubs last summer.

“For them to select me to represent Team Puerto Rico is truly special to me,” Pugliese said. “I never thought in my baseball career I would be able to represent a national team and now I have the opportunity. This pretty much tops everything that I have done and accomplished, in my eyes at least. Now we will have to bring home the Caribbean Series trophy!”

Pugliese, who will play with the Somerset Patriots in the independent Atlantic League this summer, just completed a successful season with Cangrejeros de Santurce, which recently won the Puerto Rican Winter League championship. During the regular season and playoffs, Pugliese recorded a 1.48 ERA in 15 innings, as he allowed nine hits, two walks and two runs while striking out 12.

James Pugliese and a Santurce teammate show off the championship trophy after winning the Puerto Rican Winter League title. 

Team Puerto Rico is comprised of players from the four PRWL teams. They will compete in the Caribbean Series against teams from Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the United States.

Pugliese’s original plan was to finish getting his degree in exercise science at Mercer County Community College, which he was working on before getting drafted by the Cubs in 2011. That’s still the plan, but the big right-hander put it on temporary hold as he wants to see how far baseball can take him.

“When I heard that I had the opportunity to come to Puerto Rico for winter ball, I was extremely excited,” Pugliese said. “I was told about the Caribbean Series before getting here but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go because of my college classes. I ended up making the decision to go to the Caribbean Series.”

Still only 26, Pugliese pitched eight minor league seasons for the Cubs. After being released, he pitched for the Atlantic League’s York Revolution, going 5-1 with a 2.29 ERA. He struck out 36 and walked nine in 35.1 innings. Patriots manager Brett Jodie is excited about the versatility Pugliese brings as a starter and reliever.

About The Author

Rich Fisher has been around the Hamilton Township sports scene for so long that he actually got Rich Giallella’s autograph when Giallella was still a player! Proud product of Hamilton YMCA and Lou Gehrig baseball leagues and former teammate of Jim Maher on a very average Barton & Cooney rec basketball team, Fish graduated from Nottingham Junior High and Steinert High school and has covered township sports since 1980. His goal in life is to convince Maria Prato that Jersey tomatoes are at least 100 times better than California tomatoes.