by Bruce Baskin
November 1, 2010 - Mexican League (ML)
SARAPEROS VISIT WITH MEXICAN PRESIDENT CALDERON
The Mexican League champion Saltillo Saraperos had an October 29 visit from Mexican president Felipe Calderon, who was in Saltillo to help inaugurate the city's new Chrysler plant.
The president rode in a new Chrysler with his young son as well as Saraperos owner Don Alvaro Ley and team president Sergio Ley to their visit with several Saltillo players, coaches and general manager Eduardo Valenzuela. Coahuila governor Humberto Moreira was also on hand.
The group chatted for several minutes about baseball, its history in Saltillo and the meaning of the Saraperos' two championships. "We think the promotion of this sport in fundamental in society," said Alvaro Ley. "It's undeniably necessary to not only help in the fight against delinquency, but also in generating education and creating a positive activity for the community."
Calderon received a Saraperos jersey with his name and number 200 (celebrating Mexico's Bicentennial) and a jersey for his wife with the number 100 to mark the centenary of the 1910 Revolution.
FINANCIAL PROBLEMS FORCE EARLY VERACRUZ WINTER LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
A difficult economy made worse by game cancellations caused by pounding rains this fall have forced the Veracruz Winter League (or LIV) to cut its regular season short and go into its playoffs early. The LIV schedule originally projected the regular season to run from August 26 through November 18, with teams playing a record 70 games each. However, the LIV website reports that the league office decided to conclude the regular season on October 14 with playoff games to begin two days later.
Defending champion Los Tuxtlas took first place (and the top playoff seed) with a 29-9 record while Santa Rosa came in second at 24-11. Originally, a six-team playoff field was envisioned for the LIV, but with the shortened regular season, the league revised the format to include the top eight clubs in the 12-team standings. Los Tuxtlas beat Veracruz, 4 games to 1, to win their semifinal series while Xalapa is up by a 3-2 margin in their semi series with Santa Rosa.
JORGE VAZQUEZ JOINS CULIACAN; OBREGON ADDS JOSH HORTON
The Culiacan Tomateros have brought in a veteran Mexican infielder while the revolving door in Obregon keeps spinning with the addition of another import to the injury-riddled team.
First baseman Jorge Vazquez, who batted .270 with 18 homers and 62 RBIs for the Yankees' AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate in 2010, has joined the Tomateros following an eight-week rest on the heels of the International League season. The 28-year-old Vazquez spent eight years in the Mexican League before signing with the Yanks in 2009. He hit .369 with 64 homers for Angelopolis between 2005 and 2006.
Meanwhile, the Yaquis have added A's shortstop prospect Josh Horton after injuries to fellow imports Justin Ruggiano, Neil Sellers and Doug Clark. Horton was Oakland's second-round draft pick in 2007 and spent most of the 2010 season with Midland of the AA Texas League, hitting .286 in 108 games. A University of North Carolina product, Horton gives the Yaquis a contact hitter and sure-handed fielder.
YAQUIS PLACE RUGGIANO, SELLERS ON DL; CLARK ALSO AILING
Outfielder Justin Ruggiano has been placed on the disabled list by the Obregon Yaquis. The 28-year-old Ruggiano, who hit .287 with 15 homers and 24 stolen bases with Durham of the Class AAA International League last summer, was batting .278 for the Yaquis before going on the DL last week for an undisclosed reason. Braves minor league first baseman Barbaro Canizares has been brought in as a replacement. Canizares hit .341 for AAA Gwinnett in 2010.
The Yaquis also put shortstop Neil Sellers on the DL due to right shoulder ailments. Sellers, who hit .285 with 14 homers in 85 games for the Dodgers' AAA affiliate in Albuquerque this year, was just 2-for-13 for Obregon in four games before being shelved. Sellers was replaced on the Yaquis roster by pitcher Luis Mendoza, who went 10-9 for the Royals' AAA Omaha affiliate and pitched four times for Kansas City.
Another ailing extranero, outfielder Doug Clark, has taken the past week off for what the Yaquis' team website called "health causes." Clark, who has played the last three years in Korea, was batting .316 in five games before sitting down October 18.
MAYOS SHUFFLE DECK AFTER SLOW START
The Navojoa Mayos have won just twice in their first eleven Mexican Pacific League games this season, but the team is not going to stand pat waiting for things to get better by themselves.
One move made out of necessity was the placement of third baseman Wes Timmons on the disabled list after the Braves farmhand was injured by a pitch last week. Timmons, who was hitting .350 at the time of his injury, is out for 4 to 5 weeks and has been replaced on the Mayos roster by veteran Mexican third sacker Abel Martinez, who has recovered from a nose injury that delayed the start of his season. Martinez, who hit .311 with 11 homers in 87 games for Quintana Roo last summer, went 1-for-5 Sunday in his first game for Navojoa.
The Mayos have also brought in imports Ryan Shealy and Tike Redman. Shealy, a first baseman in the Red Sox system, went 3-for-5 in his first two games. Redman is a longtime minor league outfielder who batted .355 in 62 games for Tabasco in the Mexican League this year. He has yet to play for Navojoa.
TEEN PROSPECT HEREDIA WON'T PITCH FOR VENADOS THIS WINTER
According to Puro Beisbol editor Fernando Ballasteros, Pittsburgh Pirates 16-year-old pitching prospect Luis "El Mariachi" Heredia will not be suiting up for his hometown Mazatlan Venados this winter because of the poor relationship between the team and its former general manager, Jesus "Chino" Valdez.
Valdez, who was replaced as Venados GM in the offseason by ex-pitcher Andres Cruz less than a year after being named the Mexican Pacific League's GM of the Year, is the Pirates' scouting supervisor in Mexico and a close friend of Heredia, who signed with Pittsburgh for $3 million in August. Ballasteros quotes Rene Gayo, the Pirates' head scout in Latin America, as saying that if Valdez had continued as Mazatlan's GM, Heredia would already be in a Deer uniform.
Heredia has been pitching for Pittsburgh's instructional league team and will be heading to the Pirates' Dominican Republic complex for further work. Pirates director of player development Kyle Stark told MLB.com, "Heredia, as a young 16-year-old, has fit in, which says something for someone so young."
VALENZUELA, GOMEZ SELECTED TO LATIN BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
Former Los Angeles Dodgers star Fernando Valenzuela and former Mexican League second baseman Jose "Chile" Gomez have been selected to the Latin Baseball Hall of Fame. The two were among twelve members of the Class of 2011 announced at an October 11 press conference in New York's Yankee Stadium. Mexican baseball legend Hector Espino was named to the inaugural Class of 2010.
Valenzuela was 10-12 for Yucatan of the Mexican League in 1979 as an 18-year-old and made his major league debut for the Dodgers one year later. He was an immediate sensation and won his first eight decisions in 1981, sparking "Fernandomania" across America as he finished the strike-shortened year with a 13-7 record and both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards for the National League. Valenzuela was a six-time All-Star who finished his 17-year MLB career with a 173-153 record.
Gomez played for several teams in his 17-year Mexican League career, batting .278 in 904 games between 1937 and 1974. He also was a reserve infielder for the Phillies and Senators early in his career, hitting .226 in 200 games between 1935 and 1942.
BBM TO SUPPLY INFO ON MEXICAN TEAMS TO "BASEBALL BLUEBOOK" IN 2011
Baseball Mexico will be providing information to America's longest-running sports directory publication for their 2011 edition. The Baseball Bluebook, which was first published in 1909, will collaborate with BBM to list team information for both the Mexican and Mexican Pacific leagues in the Bluebook's Professional edition, which will be available in March.
"This is a real honor," says BBM editor Bruce Baskin. "I've known of the Baseball Bluebook since I was a kid in the 1970's and it's great to actually be a part of it for 2011." President Chuck Murphy of the Class A Florida State League told the St. Petersburg Times in September, "We called it the 'Bible of Baseball'...Everybody had to have a Bluebook. If you didn't have a Bluebook, you didn't have all the information you needed to run a ballclub."
The Baseball Bluebook is now owned and operated by Dennis Wubbena of the southwest Missouri town of Fair Grove. Its website can be found at www.baseballbluebook.com.
MEXICALI RELEASES KATIN, BRINGS IN COPELAND
It didn't take two weeks for the Mexicali Aguilas to decide they needed to let go one of their six import players for this season. The Eagles released Milwaukee farmhand Brendan Katin to make room for Giants minor leaguer Ben Copeland in what essentially amounted to a swap of outfielders.
The 6'1", 235-pound Katin has put up impressive power numbers in the Brewers' system since being drafted by Milwaukee in 2005 out of the University of Miami. He has spent the past three seasons with Class AAA Nashville in the Pacific Coast League, belting 69 homers and driving in 240 runs in that span. He hit .261 with a homer for Mexicali but also committed two errors in six games.
By bringing in Copeland, who turns 27 in December, the Aguilas will sacrifice power for speed. Copeland hit .280 for the Giants' AAA team in Fresno this summer, hitting only four homers but swiping 23 bases for the Grizzlies. The left-handed batter was a fourth-round pick for San Francisco in 2005 out of the University of Pittsburgh after winning the Big East batting title that year with a .385 average.
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF ESPINO'S PRO DEBUT NOTED
The fiftieth anniversary of Mexican baseball legend Hector Espino's pro baseball debut is being observed on October 23. On that same date in 1960, the 21-year-old Espino hit the first of his record 299 Mexican Pacific League homers for the Obregon Yaquis in Guaymas during the second game of a doubleheader in what was then the Sonora Winter League. He went on to hit .329 in 24 LMP seasons, winning 13 batting titles along with six MVP awards (all for Hermosillo).
Espino did pretty well during the summer, too. He debuted with Monterrey in 1962 and hit .371 while crashing 46 homers two years later. He was signed by St. Louis and spent a short time with the Cards' AAA affiliate in Jacksonville that year (batting an even .300 in 32 games), but never played outside Mexico again. In his 24-year Mexican League career, Espino hit .335 with 453 homers and 1,573 RBIs. He was elected to the Salon de la Fama in 1988 and is considered by many the greatest domestic player in Mexican baseball history. Espino died of a heart attack at age 58 in 1997.
REYES REPLACES FERMIN AS MONTERREY SKIPPER
One of Mexico's more highly-regarded managers will be at the helm of the Monterrey Sultanes next spring. Enrique "Che" Reyes, who has won pennants in both the Liga and Mexican Pacific League and has led Mexico's national team in the Baseball World Cup and Caribbean Games, has been picked by the Sultanes to replace former skipper Felix Fermin, who led Monterrey to one pennant and three playoff appearances in four seasons. Fermin is said to be exploring opportunities north of the border.
After ten years as a catcher in the Liga, Reyes (who turns 48 on October 20) began his managerial career in 1998 with Aguascalientes. Since then, he's compiled a 657-601 career record in 13 seasons as an LMB manager for seven teams. He was working for the Sultanes organization last spring before being loaned to Tabasco, where (as the team's third manager last season) he led the Olmecas to a 41-39 record. Reyes is also managing Los Mochis in the Mex Pac this winter.
HERMOSILLO TO ERECT NEW BALLPARK FOR 2012 CARIBBEAN SERIES
When the Hermosillo Naranjeros host the Caribbean Series next season, they'll be doing it in a new ballpark. In an unexpected announcement at a "Champions Dinner" hosted by the Mexican Pacific League, Sonora governor Guillermo Padrés announced to those in attendance that "Hermosillo will have a new ballpark for the 2012 Caribbean Series."
The Naranjeros currently play in 13,000-seat Estadio Hector Espino, one of the Mex Pac's larger facilities, but there was concern after Hermosillo was awarded the Caribbean Series last month whether it could be modernized in time for the annual event (which rotates between the four participating nations). Details on the site, funding and construction timeline for the stadium will be released soon, Padrés said.
Naranjeros team president Enrique Mazon said he was taken aback by the announcement from Padrés. "It really is a surprise...really, really nice for us," Mazon commented.
BRYANT NAMED MANAGER IN TABASCO
Former Oakland A's outfielder and Salon de la Fama member Derek Bryant has been appointed manager of the Tabasco Olmecas for the 2011 Mexican League season. Bryant was tabbed as Tabasco skipper after weeks of speculation over who would take over the reins from Enrique "Che" Reyes, who will replace Felix Fermin as manager in Monterrey. Reyes led Tabasco to a 41-39 record after becoming the third Olmecas pilot one month into last season.
Bryant, who briefly played for Oakland in 1979, was one of Mexico's most dominant batters of the 1980's and shares the Liga record of homers in a nine-inning game after launching four bombs for Tampico against Aguascalientes on May 14, 1985.
Tabasco will be Bryant's fifth Mexican League managerial gig. He won pennants with Monterrey in 1995 and 1996 and has led Hermosillo to a pair of Mexican Pacific League winterball titles.
OBREGON TO RETIRE PITCHING BROTHERS' NUMBERS
Two brothers whose respective pitching careers spanned from Mexico to the Major Leagues will have their numbers retired by the Obregon Yaquis in November. Vicente (#24) and Enrique (#11) Romo will be honored in a ceremony at Obregon's Estadio Tomás Oroz Gaytan.
Vicente Romo pitched MLB ball in the 60's and 70's while also excelling in winterball for the Yaquis, Culiacan and Hermosillo. He pitched the LMP's first perfect game and is the league's all-time leader in wins (182), strikeouts (2,038), complete games (178) and ERA (2.38). He won 182 more times in the LMB.
As a 29-year-old MLB rookie, Enrique Romo led the expansion Seattle Mariners with 16 saves and a 2.83 ERA in 1977 and was a member of Pittsburgh's World Series champions in 1979. Enrique led the LMP in winning percentage three times and had a 95-65 career winter record with a 2.72 ERA.
Both Romo brothers are enshrined in the Salon de la Fama in Monterrey.
WEBER GOES 5-FOR-5 AS LMP OPENS 2010-11 CAMPAIGN
In Opening Night Mexican Pacific League play on October 12, Mazatlan's Jon Weber was a perfect 5-for-5 with a homer and Walter Silva hurled four shutout innings as the Venados defeated Culiacan, 3-1.
Elsewhere, Dan Serafini tossed six innings of one-run ball to outduel Mac Suzuki as Los Mochis beat Guasave, 4-3. Saul Soto homered for Mochis while Mario Valenzuela went deep for Guasave.
Marco Quevedo hurled five shutout innings and Augie Murillo blasted a two-run homer to lead Obregon to a 7-1 home win against Navojoa. Wes Timmons had two hits and scored the Mayos' lone run.
Emil Brown's three-run homer keyed a four-run fifth inning for Hermosillo as the Naranjeros went on to beat Mexicali, 6-3, in a game that ended well after midnight.
Attendance was solid across the circuit as at least three games sold out (figures for Mexicali weren't available). Culiacan drew 16,500 fans, Obregon had another 14,758 and 11,000 came out in Mochis.
LMB PRESIDENTS HOLD ASSEMBLY IN MEXICO CITY
Mexican League team presidents gathered at the Hotel Camino Real in Mexico City in early October to hear an address from league leader Plinio Escalante on a number of topics.
The Assembly considered a return to interzonal schedules next year after two seasons in which teams were limited to regular season games within their own eight-team zones. The LMB is also considering revamping their playoff format after Campeche was denied a berth in this year's postseason despite qualifying under the current accrued points system.
In other news, the Nuevo Laredo Tecolotes may be sold but the team is expected to remain in the border city, and the sale of the Chihuahua Dorados to a local group is nearing completion. Also, a formal request has been made for a new Liga franchise in Guadalajara.
BASEBALL FEST HELD IN ENSENADA
A four-team baseball festival was held in the Baja California city of Ensenada in early October on the heels of a similar event in Tijuana. The Ensenada fest consisted of three daily doubleheaders, a home run derby and autograph signings.
The Ensenada Marineros of the Mexican Northern League were the home team for the three-day round-robin tournament held October 5-7, hosting the Mexicali Aguilas, Obregon Yaquis and Hermosillo Naranjeros of the Mexican Pacific League. The Marineros won the LNM championship last summer by defeating Guaymas in the title series in five games.
Marineros president Juan Arellano, who organized the festivities, said, "We spent one year trying to bring a baseball event for the people of Ensenada with teams from the Mexican Pacific League." Mexicali manager Dave Machemer added, "I'm very happy to be here in Ensenada."
FOUR MEXICANS PLAYING IN MLB POSTSEASON
Major League Baseball is in the midst of its playoffs for the 2010 season, and four players of Mexican descent were on postseason team rosters when play opened October 5.
Among American League teams, infielder Ramiro Pena and pitcher Sergio Mitre were wearing New York Yankees pinstripes while infielder Jorge Cantu made his playoff debut with the Texas Rangers. Pena, who hails from Monterrey, hit .227 in 85 games for the Yankees in a reserve role this year, while Mitre (a Mexican national born in Los Angeles) turned in an 0-3 record and 3.33 ERA in 27 appearances for New York. Cantu, who was raised in Reynosa, hit .256 with 11 homers splitting the season between Florida and Texas.
Pitcher Sergio Romo is the lone Mexican in the National League playoffs. The Brawley, California product was 5-3 with a 2.13 ERA as a reliever for the San Francisco Giants during the regular season.
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Mexican League Stories from November 1, 2010
- Baseball Mexico - OSC Original by Bruce Baskin
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