Yuliesky Gourriel Castillo (born June 9, 1984), also known as Yulieski or "Yuli" Gurriel, is a Cuban professional baseball first baseman for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for Sancti Spiritus in the Cuban league. A former member of Cuba's national team, Gurriel played shortstop, second base and third base, but has played mostly first base with the Astros. The son of former Cuban player Lourdes Gurriel, Yulieski was regarded as the best player in Cuba in 2006. At the World Baseball Classic in 2006, Major League Baseball scouts projected that Gurriel would be a first-round draft pick if he were eligible for the draft.
Gurriel had a solid season during the 2004–05 Cuban National Series, leading the league in hits and runs. However, he truly dominated in 2005–06, leading the series in RBIs, runs and triples. His 27 home runs, which also led the league, were one short of the record of 28. Gourriel's batting average was .327 and his slugging percentage was .676. He played his entire Cuban career with Sancti Spíritus of the Cuban National Series.
In February 2016, Gurriel and his 22-year-old brother, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., defected after competing in the Caribbean World Series in the Dominican Republic. In June, Major League Baseball declared Gurriel eligible to be signed by a major league team as a free agent.
Nearly ten years prior, ESPN.com had erroneously reported that Gurriel and another Cuban national player, Eduardo Paret, had defected from Cuba and into Colombia. Gurriel refuted this claim on August 1, 2006, stating that he returned to his home in Cuba immediately after the conclusion of the tournament the Cuban national team had been playing in.
Gurriel's contributions helped the national team win a gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics and World Cup of Baseball championships in 2003 and 2005. During the 2005 World Cup, he led all batters with eight home runs.
Gurriel played second base for the Cuban national baseball team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, making the final out for Cuba in their championship game loss to Japan. He batted .273 in the tournament, with a .342 on-base percentage and a .515 slugging percentage. Later in the finals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Tournament, he again made the final out by grounding out into a double play against South Korea.
Gurriel played for Cuba again in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, as their third baseman. He batted for .333 in the tournament with two home runs and 6 RBIs.
On May 11, 2014, Gurriel signed a one-year contract with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. He joined the team at midseason, and batted .305 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs in 62 games.
On July 16, 2016, Gurriel signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the Houston Astros. He made his American debut in July with the Gulf Coast Astros of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, playing in two games. He was then promoted to the Lancaster JetHawks of the Class A-Advanced California League. After playing in four games for Lancaster, the Astros promoted Gurriel to the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Class AA Texas League. He batted 2-for-17 (.118) in five games for Corpus Christi, and was promoted to the Fresno Grizzlies of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. He was recalled from Fresno to the major league roster on August 21. In his first 19 games with the Astros, he batted .344 with three home runs and eight runs batted in, playing mostly first and third base defensively. On May 1, he performed a dynamic "swim slide" into second base to help defeat the Texas Rangers.
His brother, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. also played in Cuba before defecting. Gurriel Jr. has since signed with the Toronto Blue Jays.