An assortment of spices line the counter next to a pot that lays heavy on the stove. Steam dances off a thick stew that consists of various pieces of meat and root vegetables. Known as sancocho, this dish is popular at the dinner table for all sorts of occasions in Latin America, especially the Dominican Republic.
Sancocho is also known to make frequent appearances at the dinner table of Luis Guerrero, a right-handed pitcher in the Red Sox minor league system. Not only has Guerrero earned the reputation for being one of the most dominant relievers to come out of the bullpen, but also a talented chef in the kitchen.
Guerrero’s skills in the kitchen were widely discovered while playing for Boston’s low-A affiliate, the Salem Red Sox, in Southwest Virginia. During the season, Luis extended an invitation to all the players to come over and enjoy a meal, the first being sancocho.
Since then, he tries to host dinner about twice a week while the team is playing at home and has done so at every minor league level.
“We treat each other well,” Guerrero said. “If I can cook for myself, that means I can cook for everyone.”
While individuals in the baseball world discovered his talent not that long ago, cooking is a craft Luis has been working on for about ten years and counting.
Growing up in Baní, Dominican Republic, Luis and his family typically feasted on meals that consisted of rice, beans, and different meats. His favorite foods to consume are a rice and bean combination called moro, and tostones, also known as fried plantains.
Though his aunt did most of the cooking, Luis took the initiative to teach himself when he was just 14 years old.
“I taught myself because I like to eat a lot,” Luis said. “The first meal I learned to make was white rice and fried eggs.”
Luis resided in Baní by himself for a couple of years, under the watchful eye of his aunt, until he relocated to the United States to rejoin his parents at the age of 16. In the States, Luis moved to a suburb of Boston roughly ten minutes from Fenway Park, named Dorchester.
Dorchester is one of many areas surrounding the city that consists of a dominantly Hispanic population. This made it easier for Luis to transition to his new living environment.
“There were many restaurants near my house that had Dominican food, and stores to buy ingredients from,” Guerrero said. “It was easy to share food with others in the community.”
His first time cooking outside of a primarily Latin culture occurred when Luis attended Chipola Junior College in Florida. The school is located in the Panhandle area of the state, close to the border of Alabama. There, the trend began as he cooked meals for just his roommate and a friend during his two years with the team.
Later, this progressed to cooking more food for a larger group after he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2021. Luis started his first full season as a professional player in the Florida Coast League before being promoted to Salem in June and Greenville, South Carolina, in August.
At the low-A and high-A levels, a good percentage of the rosters were filled with international players, many of which were recurring dinner guests at Luis’s apartment, including Matthew Lugo, Wikelman Gonzalez, Ceddanne Rafaela, Angel Bastardo and Edwin Diaz. Occasionally, a pair of American players, Niko Kavadas and Nick Yorke would join the group as well.
“Together we would eat dinner, watch movies and play games like dominoes,” Teammate Matthew Lugo said. “It was a really great time for us to bond and grow closer.”
A native of Manati, Puerto Rico, Lugo grew up eating similar foods as Luis; and is known to go out of his way to try and find cuisine that resembles palettes similar to home whenever he can.
Lugo experienced Luis’s cooking for the first time in Greenville, when the two became teammates at the end of the 2022 season.
“I went over and had his sancocho and I really liked it,” Lugo said. “Leaving the country and culture behind is hard, but being together and sharing something like food is the closest thing we have to home.”
Luckily for Lugo, he and Luis were placed on the roster in Portland to start the 2023 season. But unfortunately in Maine, there are not as many options to find authentic Dominican cuisine or ingredients.
“In Salem and Greenville, I cooked the most because I was able to find places to get what I needed,” Guerrero said. “My mom would bring meals to me in Portland that would last two-to-three days, or I would go to Boston so I could have my favorite food.”
Fortunately, Luis was able to get closer to home after being called up to Boston’s Triple-A team, the Worcester Red Sox, in early September. Worcester is a city located in Massachusetts just 30 minutes from his family.
In Worcester, Luis lived in an apartment with his teammates, but would take a train to Dorchester to gather ingredients to take with him or eat meals at home whenever he could.
“I always prefer to cook than eat out,” Luis said. “I even bring rice and beans on road trips to heat up in the hotel microwave.”
During the offseason, Luis resides in Dorchester with his mom and younger sister, where he enjoys doing all the cooking.
Though he has plenty of supplies to create all his preferred meals, he misses eating his native dishes in the Dominican Republic. It has been seven years since he was last there.
“I miss my aunt and grandma’s cooking because it tastes different being cooked over an open flame,” Guerrero said. “I hope to return one day when the time is right as is God's will.”
Since being drafted in 2021, Luis has shown consistency in his performance on the mound, leading him to compete for all four of Boston’s affiliates in just two years.
His accomplishments include representing the Red Sox in the 2023 All-Star Futures Game on July 8, striking out the only batter he faced, and helping combine for the seventh no-hitter in Sea Dogs history. Luis concluded the season with 68 strikeouts across 54.1 innings pitched. To round out his accolades, he was named the Red Sox minor league relief pitcher of the year.
“My dream is to bring my grandma to the states one day,” Guerrero said. “I want her here with me when I make it to the majors.”