by Bruce Baskin
January 4, 2021 - Mexican League (ML)
HERMOSILLO TOP LMP PLAYOFF SEED, FIRST ROUND OPENS
Despite not owning the best overall record, Hermosillo is the top seed in the Mexican Pacific League playoffs by virtue of their 19.0 playoff points collected over both halves of the schedule. The Naranjeros held off surging Mexicali by a half-game to win the second-half points race, earning 10.0 points with an 18-12 record after copping second place in the first half at 15-12. Obregon posted the LMP's best season mark with a 37-22 ledger, but most of that was built on their 21-8 first half before slipping to 16-14 over the second half.
Hermosillo earned home-field advantage throughout the postseason by virtue of their seeding, drawing Mazatlan as their first round opponent. The Venados finished eighth in the points race at 10.0 and are the only playoff team with a losing record (28-30) over the regular season. Other pairings in the quarterfinals include #2 Obregon vs. #7 Jalisco, #3 Guasave vs. #6 Culiacan and #4 Monterrey vs. #5 Mexicali. The Algodoneros and Sultanes both finished with 14.0 points but Guasave got the nod for the fourth seed due to their superior won-lost percentage. Drawing the defending champion Tomateros may not seem like much reward for Cottoneers manager Oscar Robles, however.
MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE REGULAR SEASON POINTS STANDINGS
Hermosillo 33-23 (19.0), Obregon 37-22 (17.0), Guasave 31-26 (14.0), Monterrey 29-27 (14.0), Mexicali 30-28 (13.5), Culiacan 29-29 (11.5), Jalisco 30-29 (11.0), Mazatlan 28-30 (10.0), Navojoa 23-36 (8.0), Los Mochis 19-39 (7.0)
The Mex Pac's first reinforcement draft was held shortly after the conclusion of the regular season last Wednesday. The eight playoff teams were each allowed to choose two players from either Navojoa or Los Mochis, the two non-playoff teams. A similar draft will be held at each subsequent postseason stage, with surviving teams selecting two players from among eliminated club rosters.
Los Mochis infielder Esteban Quiroz was taken with the first pick with fellow Caneros infielder Isaac Rodriguez chosen second by Mexicali. In an unusual move, Culiacan chose to pick pitchers J.C. Ramirez and Derrick Loop off their own reserve list, moving down to the last selection in both rounds and forfeiting the chance to take any players from either Navojoa or Los Mochis. According to LMP rules, first-round reinforcements are added to drafting team rosters, while second picks will be activated only in case the first selection can't be activated.
FIRST POSTSEASON REINFORCEMENT DRAFT
First Round: 1-Jalisco, IF Esteban Quiroz (Los Mochis); 2-Mexicali, IF Isaac Rodriguez (Los Mochis); 3-Monterrey, RP Carlos Bustamante (Navojoa); 4-Hermosillo, 3B Rodolfo Amador (Los Mochis); 5-Obregon, SP Carlos Viera (Los Mochis); 6-Guasave, IF Josuan Hernandez (Navojoa); 7-Mazatlan, IF Jorge Flores (Navojoa); 8-Culiacan, SP J.C. Ramirez (Reserve List).
Second Round: 1-Jalisco, OF Juan Perez (Navojoa); 2-Mexicali, RP Fabian Cota (Los Mochis); 3-Monterrey, C Omar Renteria (Navojoa); 4-Hermosillo, RP Esteban Haro (Navojoa); 5-Obregon, RP Daysbel Hernandez (Los Mochis); 6-Guasave, SP John Anderson (Navojoa); 7-Mazatlan, RP Daniel Duarte (Los Mochis); 8-Culiacan, RP Derrick Loop (Reserve List).
The Mexican Pacific League postseason opened over the weekend with first round games on both Saturday and Sunday. The playoffs will consist of three stages (quarterfinals, semifinals and championship series), all in best-of-7 formats.
Here are the scores and highlights of all the action (home teams in boldface):
MONTERREY leads MEXICALI, 2 games to 0
G1: Monterrey 3, Mexicali 2 (Alejo Lopez SF in B6 scores Ricardo Serrano to break 2-2 tie)
G2: Monterrey 4, Mexicali 3 (Sultanes score 3 in B7 to erase 3-1 deficit; bat 3 for-5 with RISP)
JALISCO and OBREGON tied with 1 win each
G1: Jalisco 11, Obregon 5 (Christian Villanueva's 2-run 3B keys 8-run T1 for Charros)
G2: Obregon 6, Jalisco 2 (Yaquis RF Leandro Castro 2 RBI singles, scores twice for Yaquis)
CULIACAN and GUASAVE tied with 1 win each
G1: Culiacan 11, Guasave 6 (Jose G. Chavez, Joey Meneses hit 3-run HRs for Tomateros)
G2: Guasave 5, Culiacan 1 (Guasave's Jesse Castillo HR, RBI 1B; Adam Quintana 7IP/1R/6H)
HERMOSILLO leads MAZATLAN, 2 games to 0
G1: Hermosillo 2, Mazatlan 1 (Yadiel Hernandez' walkoff 1B in B12 scores Alex Robles)
G2: Hermosillo 3, Mazatlan 1 (Hernandez 3-3 w/RBI 2B, Ryan Verdugo 7IP/1R/3H for W)
PAREDES GIVEN MEX PAC BAT TITLE; VERA AWARDED ERA CROWN
It's been quite a year for infielder Isaac Paredes. The 21-year-old native of Hermosillo began 2020 on the heels of his third season with the Obregon Yaquis, for whom he hit .295 over 44 games while playing mostly third base for the Mexican Pacific League team. Then the highly-touted prospect reported to the Detroit Tigers training camp in Florida to vie for a spot with the American League team. After the season was delayed due to pandemic fears, Paredes made his MLB debut with the Tigers and went on to bat .220 in 34 contests, belting a grand slam in only his fourth big league outing. While he was playing the hot corner for Detroit Obregon dealt him to Mazatlan for veteran catcher Sebastian Valle to bring about one more change in a year full of them.
Regarding that latest change, Paredes has adjusted beautifully to playing for the Venados by winning the LMP batting title for the 2021-21 season with a .379 average. Although he missed 16 of his team's 58 games, the LMP office ruled that Paredes' 177 plate appearances were enough to qualify for the bat crown. While giving someone with 3.05 plate appearances for each of his team's games (a more oft-used standard is 3.5) may seem dubious, Paredes' accomplishment itself is not. Of his 55 hits, 17 were for doubles and four went to the streets as he scored 28 runs and drive in 26 in 42 games, with a league-leading on-base percentage of .480.
In similar fashion, Mexicali pitcher Eduardo Vera was awarded the LMP title with a 2.05 ERA despite hurling 48.1 innings, less than the one-inning-per-team-games-played formula used by most professional leagues for decades. Vera went 3-0 in eight starts with 29 strikeouts and ten walks. There is no mention of what qualifies a player for a batting or ERA title on the Mex Pac website, which congratulates both Paredes and Vera for their titles, although their own stats page shows Hermosillo's Yadiel Hernandez with the top batting average at .339 while another Mexicali pitcher, veteran Javier Solano, tops four qualifying hurlers with a 2.60 ERA.
With that in mind, here are the LMP's official individual leaders for 2020-21:
GAMES PLAYED â 59, Dariel Alvarez, Jalisco
PLATE APPEARANCES â 262, Dariel Alvarez, Jalisco
HITS â 72, Carlos Figueroa, Jalisco
DOUBLES â 17, Isaac Paredes, Mazatlan
TRIPLES â 4, Miguel Guzman, Guasave and Carlos Sepulveda, Obregon
HOME RUNS â 15, Japhet Amador, Jalisco
RUNS SCORED â 43, Carlos Figueroa, Jalisco
RUNS BATTED IN â 52, Japhet Amador, Jalisco
STOLEN BASES â 28, Alonzo Harris, Obregon
BASES ON BALLS â 51, Esteban Quiroz, Los Mochis
STRIKEOUTS â 50, Leo German, Guasave
BATTING AVERAGE - .371, Isaac Paredes, Mazatlan
ON-BASE PERCENTAGE - .480, Isaac Paredes, Mazatlan
SLUGGING PERCENTAGE - .589, Japhet Amador, Jalisco
GAMES PITCHED â 33, Roberto Espinosa, Mazatlan
INNINGS PITCHED â 86.0, Javier Solano, Mexicali
COMPLETE GAMES â 1, David Reyes, Mexicali and Javier Solano, Mexicali
SHUTOUTS â 1, David Reyes, Mexicali and Javier Solano, Mexicali
WINS â 8, Fernando Miranda, Mexicali and Juan Pablo Oramas, Hermosillo
SAVES â 17, Fernando Salas, Hermosillo
STRIKEOUTS â 64, Manny Barreda, Hermosillo
BASES ON BALLS â 30, Santiago Gutierrez, Los Mochis
EARNED RUN AVERAGE â 2.05, Eduardo Vera, Mexicali
WALKS/HITS PER IP â 0.994, Miguel Pena, Mexicali
STRIKEOUTS PER 9 IP â 8.9, Thomas Dorminy, Guasave
STRIKEOUTS: WALKS RATIO â 3.20, Manny Barreda, Hermosillo
AROZARENA ELIGIBLE TO PLAY FOR MEXICO IN OLYMPICS
The Septima Entrada website reports that Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena, a revelation to fans in last fall's Major League Baseball playoffs, has expressed his desire to represent Mexico in an international tournament. The opportunity could present itself at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, rescheduled from 2020 to this summer due to the pandemic.
According to the Around the Rings website, a source from the World Baseball and Softball Confederation confirmed that if Arozarena has a Mexican passport and more than three years since having last represented Cuba, he'll be eligible to play for Mexico.
The last time Arozarena played for Cuba was at the U-18 Baseball World Cup in August 2013. After the 2018 birth in Mexico of his daughter LÃa, he began procedures to obtain Mexican nationality, which would give him the right to acquire a passport and represent Mexico in the next Olympics.
Mexico achieved qualification for the Tokyo Games during the 2019 World Premier12, beating the United States twice. Hosts Japan, South Korea and Israel are the other three countries who won their Premier 12 qualifiers with the final two nations yet to be defined.
Mexico has several MLB players who could make up the team for the Olympics. However, they must receive authorization from their teams to be able to travel to Tokyo, since the summer event takes place during the Major League season.
Arozarena is a 25-year-old native of Pinar del Rio, Cuba who spent all or part of two seasons with the Vegueros in the Cuban National Series before defecting to Mexico in 2015. He played five games in 2016 for Tijuana in the Mexican League before batting .266 for Navojoa of the Mexican Pacific League in 2016-17, signing a minor league contract with St. Louis in the process. Arozarena came back to Navojoa the following winter and led the LMP with 14 homers and later hit .300 in 19 games for the Cardinals in his 2019 Major League debut.
He was traded to Tampa Bay in early 2020 and played sparingly in the regular season for the Rays last year, batting .281 with seven homers in just 23 games. The 5'11" right-handed batter had a standout postseason with a .377 average and ten homers over 20 games and four playoff stages, including the World Series, to earn American League Championship Series honors as well as the Babe Ruth Award by New York writers for the best postseason performance.
Arozarena lives in Yucatan during the offseason, although his residency has not been problem-free. Last November, he was arrested and jailed for allegedly attempting to kidnap his 2-year-old daughter and assaulting the toddler's maternal grandfather. He was released after two days when the girl's mother told authorities the matter had been settled, but both the MLB office and the Rays are looking further into the dispute. Arozarena had reportedly married another woman from Colombia the same month.
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