The paperwork mess cleared up, Morales finally landed in the U.S. in mid-May and the Angels assigned him to Rancho Cucamonga. He homered on his first swing May 21.
The yin in Morales is still fighting with the yang.
Much of Castro's Cuba is in him, from the heavy Havana accent that drips from his mouth when he speaks his rapid-fire Spanish to his suddenly deferential manner when asked who his favorite major league team was while growing up. It was all about Castro and country, and picking one over the other is akin to betrayal.
"Oh no, over there, you couldn't say anything," he said. "Over there, you weren't really allowed to pick a favorite team."
Then the exile in him pops out, such as when he stands at home plate admiring a home run, or when he tells Bane and Co. of another prospect in Cuba before stopping.
"Never mind, I don't think you want him," Morales said. "He's a communist."
The Angels hope Morales wears the title of major leaguer, and soon. There were only six Cubans on opening-day major league rosters this year -- Tampa Bay's Danys Baez, the White Sox's Jose Contreras (who has left messages of support for Morales) and Orlando Hernandez, Washington's Livan Hernandez, Kansas City's Eli Marrero and Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro.
When Morales signed with the Angels, he was put on the 40-man roster. But that does not guarantee a call-up when rosters are expanded in September, even with the Angels' lack of production from the designated hitter spot.
"He's getting acclimated to playing everyday baseball in the United States," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said. "As he gets more and more confidence ... his talent's evident.
"There has to be a role ... he has to earn his way here. He's going to answer that question."
He answered it fairly quickly in Rancho Cucamonga, posting a .544 slugging percentage and scoring 18 runs. He struck out 11 times and had six walks in 22 games.
"In the end, he'll be a 3-4-5 hitter," Bane said.
At 6 feet 1, 220 pounds, Morales reminds some of the San Francisco Giants' Edgardo Alfonzo.
"I'll take that," Bane said. "Being a switch-hitter, he's never going to face that curveball running away. Deep down, he knows how good he is."
Bouts of loneliness in Rancho Cucamonga were combated with the daily grind of professional baseball and a visit from Yarleis. Still, there are cultural differences he faces on a daily basis.
"It's not the same," Morales said. "I have to speak another language. The way people are here is different than in Cuba. Even the beans are different."
Culinary delights apart, the game, and the adulation fans pour on their baseball-playing heroes, is similar.
"Oh yeah," he said. "I'm preparing for that in Anaheim."
The confident exile in Morales is back, admiring his moment.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
An overview of Cuban baseball players in the United States:
THE EARLY IMPORTS
Before baseball's integration in 1947, only light-skinned players from the island could make the jump to the major leagues. Some of the early stars:
* Dolf Luque -- Winner of 194 games in 20 seasons, the right-hander was a member of the Cincinnati rotation for more than a decade, with career bests of 27 victories and a 1.93 earned-run average in 1923.
* Martin Dihigo -- Perhaps the greatest Cuban player of all-time, segregation kept him out of the major leagues. A star in the Negro Leagues and in Cuba, "El Maestro" could play all nine positions and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977.
* Minnie Minoso -- Known as "The Cuban Comet," he was the star outfielder of the "Go-Go" Chicago White Sox of the 1950s, batting over .300 eight times.
FLEEING THE REVOLUTION
With the takeover by Fidel Castro's forces in Cuba in 1959, Havana's relations with Washington soured, leading to a generation of players -- and the parents of future players -- that left the island:
* Tony Perez -- At 17, he signed with Cincinnati, his only signing bonus a $2.50 payment for an exit visa. He played 23 seasons in the majors, driving in 1,652 runs and getting elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000.
* Luis Tiant -- The son of a Cuban and Negro League legend, he won 229 games in 19 seasons. After his contract was purchased by Cleveland in 1961, he went 14 years without seeing his family, until a special visa allowed his parents to see him pitch for Boston in the 1975 World Series.
* Rafael Palmeiro -- His family fled Cuba in 1971 when he was 5. He is playing in his 20th major league season and has hit 559 home runs.
PRODUCTS OF THE SYSTEM
Like Angel prospect Kendry Morales, many Cuban League stars have undergone the dangerous process of defecting so they can play in the major leagues. Among the best:
* Livan Hernandez -- Only two years after defecting from the Cuban national team while on a tour of Mexico in 1995, he was the NLCS and World Series MVP in leading Florida to the championship. Now starring for Washington, he is one of baseball's most durable pitchers, averaging 234 innings the last five seasons.
* Orlando Hernandez -- The star pitcher of the Cuban national team, he compiled a 129-47 record in Cuba before being banned in 1996 for allegedly planning to defect. Signed by the New York Yankees in 1998, after escaping Cuba with seven others on a rickety sailboat, he is 9-3 in postseason play. He's now pitching for the White Sox.