Wednesday, September 29, 2010

VENADOS PICK UP DIAMONDBACKS PITCHER ROSALES

The Mazatlan Venados have strengthened their bullpen for the upcoming Mexican Pacific League season by adding Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Leo Rosales to their roster.

A 29-year-old Los Angeles native, the right-handed Rosales was a 20th Round Padres draft pick in 2003 out of Cal State-Northridge but was sent to the Diamondbacks organization during the 2007 season for infielder Scott Hairston. He made his MLB debut with Arizona that year, and in three truncated seasons with the D-Backs has earned a 5-2 record with a 4.98 earned-run average in 74 appearances. Rosales pitched last winter for Hermosillo, going 3-1 with four saves and a 4.50 ERA.

Rosales becomes the fifth Venados import for 2010-11, joining Ruben Rivera, Jon Weber, Matt Clark and Elliott Johnson. He’s expected to be the team’s closer.

Monday, September 27, 2010

NAVOJOA LINES UP SIX IMPORTS FOR 2010-11 SEASON

The Navojoa Mayos have firmed up their allowed six import players for the upcoming season, and returning LMP Manager of the Year Orlando Sanchez (who skippered Saltillo to the Mexican League pennant this summer) will be welcoming back three extraneros from his playoff team from last winter.

Pitchers Tim Gustafson, Brian Adams, Wes Timmons and Jason Lowey will be joined on the Mayos roster by second baseman Jose Macias and outfielder Matt Young. Gustafson was 5-1 for Navojoa last season while Adams finished 3-5 after a strong start. Young (.315) was the Mayos’ lone .300 hitter in 2009-10 and led the team with 56 runs and 21 stolen bases.

Gustafson and Young are Atlanta farmhands, as are Timmons and Lowey: Young and Timmons played in Class AAA, Gustafson was at AA and Lowey played A ball for the Braves after being signed out of the Frontier League. Adams (Reynosa) and Macias (Campeche) played in the Mexican League.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

MACHEMER GLAD TO BE BACK MANAGING IN MEXICALI

Ex-MLB infielder and longtime minor league manager Dave Machemer has returned to Mexicali over 20 years after leading the Aguilas to their first Mexican Pacific League pennant, and he says “I’m very happy to be back. I’ve played here, I’ve managed here and the people in Mexicali are special.”

Machemer led Mexicali to the LMP pennant in 1988-89, thanks in no small part to the 13-3 record and 2.09 ERA of Mex Pac MVP Mercedes Esquer and shortstop Houston Jimenez, who led the circuit with 26 doubles and provided strong infield defense.

Machemer batted .229 in two big league seasons for Detroit and California. He debuted as a minor league skipper with Beloit of the Midwest League in 1985. Since then, the 59-year-old has led 14 different teams in nine leagues, notching his 1,400th win this summer for the Giants’ Augusta affiliate in the Class A South Atlantic League.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

LMB ERA CHAMP SUZUKI RETURNING TO GUASAVE

Have slider, will travel.

Former major league pitcher Mac Suzuki, who led the Mexican League this year with a 2.89 ERA for the Chihuahua Dorados, will be back with the Guasave Algodoneros this season. The 35-year-old Kobe, Japan product turned in a 9-5 record in 20 starts for Chihuahua in 2010, striking out 88 batters and walking 74 in 131 innings pitched to help lead the Gold to a playoff berth before finishing the summer by going 2-2 in five starts for Calgary of the independent Golden League. Suzuki was 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA in ten games (including four starts) for Guasave last winter.

Suzuki was sent to America at age 16 by his parents in 1991 after being expelled from his Japan high school. He was signed by Seattle in and made his major league debut for the Mariners in 1996. He went on to pitch for four MLB teams between 1996 and 2002, going 16-31 with a 5.72 ERA. Since then, he and his passport have bounced around baseball from the USA to Japan, Taiwan, Canada and Mexico.

Friday, September 24, 2010

VENADOS ADD PADRES PROSPECT CLARK TO ROSTER

In an effort to boost their power numbers this winter, the Mazatlan Venados are bringing in San Diego Padres prospect Matt Clark to play first base.

The 25-year-old Clark was a Pittsburgh draft pick out of LSU, where he tied for the NCAA lead in homers with 17 in 2008, but was dealt to the Padres before ever playing a game in the Pirates’ system. He split the 2009 season playing for the Padres’ Class A affiliates in Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore, belting 25 homers and driving in 101 runs over 131 games, then spent this season with San Antonio of the Class AA Texas League, where he hit .269 with 28 homers and 97 RBIs. MadFriars.com’s Denis Savage was quoted in Scout.com as saying the 6’5” 235-pound Clark has “light-tower power.”

Mazatlan team president Jose Luis Martinez says, “We needed to round out the team with a great power hitter and the inclusion of Matt Clark will be of great benefit to the middle of our lineup.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

PIRATES SIGNEE HEREDIA ADAPTING TO U.S. CULTURE

Mexican pitching phenom Luis Heredia has moved to the Pittsburgh Pirates training facility in Bradenton, Florida and is working on becoming acclimated to life in the United States. The 6‘4” right-hander from Mazatlan with a 92 MPH fastball signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Bucs on his 16th birthday in August after being courted by a number of major league organizations. His rights were purchased from the Mexican League’s Veracruz Rojos Aguilas.

“I am working very much on the physical aspects,” Heredia says. “The truth is that they have treated and received me very well.” Heredia has spent time with fellow Pittsburgh pitching prospects Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie while attending weekday English classes at Pirate City, saying, “I attend English classes Monday through Friday and have learned very much.”

Heredia is one of 46 pitchers on Pittsburgh’s Florida Instructional League roster this fall.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RENOVATIONS UNDERWAY AT SALTILLO BALLPARK

Work is underway for renovations to the Saltillo Saraperos’ ballpark. Upgrades at Estadio Francisco I. Madero began September 16 when machinery from the Begasa Company rolled in.

The playing field itself is being removed so a new water drainage system can be installed. Soil samples were earlier taken to analyze for moisture resistance qualities. While the playing field is being resurfaced, the old wooden bleachers are being replaced with concrete bleachers; bathrooms, locker rooms, a gym area for players and fan entertainment areas are all being remodeled; roofing is being installed for all seating areas; and a new 46’x79’ scoreboard, which will be the largest in Latin baseball, is being put in. When the work is done, the ballpark’s capacity will be raised to 17,500.

The renovations will cost 87 million pesos, or about US$7 million, much of it coming from the Coahuila state government.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

GARCIA AIMING FOR ANOTHER HERMOSILLO PENNANT

Slugger Luis Alfonso Garcia is in training camp with the Hermosillo Naranjeros and the defending Mexican Pacific League MVP is shooting for another big winter, both for his team and himself. “I feel good,” says the Guadalajara native.

The Orangemen won the Mex Pac pennant last season and represented Mexico at the Caribbean Series. “The goal is to defend the championship,” he was quoted as saying in Puro Beisbol. “The championship is ours and we have to go out and defend it with all we have.”

Garcia, who led the LMP with 23 homers and finished second with 58 RBIs while batting .266, is moving to the outfield after playing first base for Hermosillo last winter. He sees no problem with the move. “It’s a position I’ve played for years. It’s a matter of getting in shape and getting my rhythm again.”
As for whether he’d repeat his banner season, Garcia says, “I think every year you have to improve your numbers…You should come with the mindset to improve.”

Monday, September 20, 2010

RODRIGUEZ TO AUDITION FOR ROCKIES

Pitcher Hector Daniel “Danny” Rodriguez is scheduled to travel to Arizona later this month to workout for the Colorado Rockies organization. Rodriguez was lightly regarded as a major league prospect after compiling a 20-18 career record over five seasons in the Mexican League with Saltillo, but the 25-year-old lefty from Culiacan put together an outstanding playoff record for the Saraperos this year, going 5-0 with a microscopic 0.66 ERA, tossing a no-hitter against Mexico City in the first round and winning the Playoff MVP for the two-time champions.

Many major league teams are now interested in Rodriguez, but Colorado may have an inside track with Mexican baseball legend Vinny Castilla in their front office while LMB Manager of the Year Houston Jimenez (who manages Culiacan in the winter) was a Rockies minor league instructor until two years ago. Rodriguez will pitch for the Rockies in Tucson on September 24.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

EX-DIABLOS PITCHER LEAL DEAD AT AGE 67

Former Mexican League right-handed pitcher Felipe Leal died September 15 in Saltillo of a heart attack while coaching a group of university students. Leal was 67.

The Matamoros native starred in baseball and basketball at St. Joseph Academy in Brownsville, Texas before becoming an All-American at Pan American University in nearby Edinburg, where Leal tossed a no-hitter, had 16 strikeouts in another contest, set a school record for wins and led PAU to two NAIA playoff berths. He is in the school’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Leal went 18-11 for Mexico City in 1966 before his contract was sold to the Orioles for $35,000. He ended up in the Angels system and tossed a no-hitter in 1967 for their Class AA Texas League affiliate El Paso. Leal returned to Mexico City in 1968 and went on to compile a 116-128 record (including two 18-win seasons) for seven Liga teams before retiring in 1979.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

RANGERS, GIANTS EYEING LIGA ROOKIE OF YEAR VELAZQUEZ

The 2010 Mexican League Rookie of the Year is on the radar of two major league organizations. Hector Velazquez threw 25 pitches for scouts from the Texas Rangers on September 14 while attending training camp for the Obregon Yaquis, for whom Velazquez is slated to pitch this winter. The San Francisco Giants are also said to be interested in the 22-year-old right-hander from Sonora.

Velazquez began the Liga season in March as a reliever for the Campeche Piratas, but joined the starting rotation as the season progressed. He finished with a 6-4 record and came in second to Chihuahua’s Mac Suzuki with a 2.89 ERA and losing just two of his last nine starts.

After his workout for the Rangers, Velazquez said, “I felt well…during the session I worked straight, speed to change to slider to curve.” He added, “What follows is to give the maximum this winter and see if there is an invitation to a major league camp next year.”

Friday, September 17, 2010

ROOKIE WINTER LEAGUE PLAYERS REPORT TO ACADEMY

Young players belonging to five Mexican League teams reported to the Liga’s academy in El Carmen, Nuevo Leon (near Monterrey) for the 2010-11 LMB Rookie Winter League season. Prospects for the Monterrey Sultanes, Saltillo Saraperos, Campeche Piratas, Tabasco Olmecas and Monclova Acereros arrived at Academia Ing. Alejo Peralta on September 14, and will be joined by youngsters from the Laguna Vaqueros, Mexico City Diablos Rojos and Oaxaca Guerreros when the season begins on September 21.

In all, five teams will play in the Rookie Winter League: Saltillo (managed by Carlos Esqueda), Monterrey (led by Miguel Flores with help from fellow LMB alums Jack Pierce and Alfredo Meza), Tabasco-Campeche (Carlos Chavez and Adelaido Rodriguez), Mexico City-Oaxaca and Laguna-Nuevo Laredo.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

JALISCO MAN SEEKS CHARROS’ RETURN TO BASEBALL IN 2012

A Jalisco man says he is hopeful that when Guadalajara hosts the 2011 Pan American Games, the event can be a starting point leading to the return of a Mexican League team to the state of Jalisco.

A story by Paulino Perez on the Puro Beisbol website says Armando Navarro announced “the beginning of the return” of the Charros at a September 8 press conference. “I think this is the last chance for the return of professional baseball to this city,” Navarro said. “It would be hard to build a stadium in the future for this sport.” A ballpark for the Pan Am Games will be built in nearby Zapopan (model pictured). While Navarro says he has had talks with Zapopan officials about putting a Liga ballclub in the new facility, he has not heard from the Jalisco governor or Guadalajara’s mayor.

Jalisco has hosted Mexican League teams four different times between 1949 and 1995, winning LMB pennants in 1967 and 1971. Guadalajara is Mexico’s second-largest city with over 1.6 million residents but is considered by many to be more of a soccer hotbed than baseball city.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

WEBER BACK WITH VENADOS FOR 2010-11 SEASON

Longtime minor league outfielder Jon Weber is coming back to Mazatlan for another season. Weber has played pro baseball since 1999, when he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech by the Cincinnati Reds. During his 12-year career he played in the 2005 Southern League All-Star Game and was selected to the 2009 International League All-Star Team after hitting .302 for the league champion Durham Bulls.

Weber nearly made the New York Yankees this year after hitting a torrid .452 as a non-roster invitee during Spring Training, but was shipped to Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre instead. He was later dealt to Detroit’s AAA affiliate in Toledo, but the 32-year-old Weber retired July 17 after Minor League Baseball handed down a 100-game suspension for a third positive drug test. The suspension does not apply to the Mexican Pacific League, which is not officially under the MiLB umbrella.

Weber batted .396 with 7 homers in just 40 games for the Venados last winter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CRAMER CALLED UP TO OAKLAND, WINS MLB DEBUT

Bobby Cramer, the Mexican League Pitcher of the Year for 2010, made his major league debut for the Oakland Athletics a winning one September 13, beating Kansas City by a 3-1 score. Cramer went five innings for the A’s allowing one run on four hits and a walk while recording four strikeouts.

Cramer was a 2001 Seattle Mariners draft pick who spent several years in the minors bouncing between affiliate in independent ball, missing the entire 2005 and 2006 seasons out of baseball while teaching high school math and working on a pipeline. He hit his stride this year with the Quintana Roo Tigres, going 13-3 and leading the Mexican League in six pitching categories while on loan from Oakland. The A’s then sent him to their PCL affiliate in Sacramento.

He went 2-2 with a 1.94 ERA in seven starts for the River Cats and earning a PCL Player of the Week award before being called up after Sacramento was eliminated in the playoffs by Tacoma.

Monday, September 13, 2010

RIVERA TO RETURN TO MAZATLAN FOR MEX PAC SEASON

Former major league outfielder Ruben Rivera, a Baseball Mexico All-Star Team pick after a solid summer in Campeche, is set to come back to Mazatlan for another winter with the Venados. It’ll mark Rivera’s second Mex Pac campaign in the resort city after spending four seasons with Culiacan.

The Panamanian hit just .239 last winter for the Venados, but led the team with 10 homers, 41 RBIs and six stolen bases over 67 games. Rivera followed that up with a tremendous Mexican League season for Campeche, topping the Piratas in eleven offensive categories, including batting (.360), hits (124), homers (21), RBIs (73), runs scored (80) and stolen bases (16).

Mazatlan Sports Manager Andres Cruz says, “Rivera is a very important player, as his offensive contribution is central to the aspirations of the team, besides being one of the leaders of the team.” A four-time Mexican League All-Star, Rivera batted .216 with 64 homers and 203 RBIs between 1995 and 2003 for five teams in the majors, belting 40 homers for the Padres in 1999 and 2000.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

TIJUANA SITE OF SECOND MEX PAC “BASEBALL FEST”

The Baja California Norte city of Tijuana is set to host its second annual Baseball Fest in early October as four Mexican Pacific League teams will converge on Estadio del Cerro Colorado for the three-day event October 1-3. Organizers say over 4,000 fans turned out each day of the 2009 Baseball Fest.

The four LMP teams involved will be the Mexicali Aguilas, Culiacan Tomateros, Obregon Yaquis and the host Hermosillo Naranjeros. The same clubs took part last year, with Culiacan winning the mini-tournament. Besides two days of seven-inning baseball games between the four Mex Pac sides, the 2010 Beisbol Fest will include a Home Run Derby and a field skills contest.

Tijuana began the year with two pro baseball teams and ended with mixed results. The city’s entry in the Mexican Northern League dominated the regular season but fell in the opening round of the playoffs. The Golden Baseball League’s Tijuana Cimarrones failed to last the summer before moving to Yuma in midseason due to “ballpark issues.”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

OLMECAS NAME CANO NEW GM FOR 2011 SEASON

The Tabasco Olmecas of the Mexican League have named Raul Armando Cano as the team’s general manager for 2011. Cano replaces Jorge Calvo, Jr.

The 64-year-old Cano only played three seasons with the Diablos Rojos from 1967-69, but has had a long managerial career in the Liga, showing a career record of 924-923 after 14 seasons as a skipper. His last year running a team was in 2005, when he led the Tijuana Potros to a 64-46 mark.

Cano is no stranger to baseball in Tabasco. In 1979, he managed the then-Plataneros to Tabasco’s first LMB playoff berth with a team featuring players like Rommel Canada, Hector Madrigal, Joel Serna and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Mike Nagy. The Plataneros fell to Puebla in the first round, however, and did not appear in the postseason for several years.

The modern-day Olmecas last went to the playoffs in 2007.

Friday, September 10, 2010

AMADOR TO SPEND TIME WITH METS' INSTRUCTIONAL TEAM

Mexican star first baseman Japhet Amador is spending 20 days with the New York Mets Florida Instructional League team in September and October.

Amador, the 2009 Mexican League co-Rookie of the Year, spent last summer with the Mexico City Diablos Rojos and hit .366 with 14 homers in 79 games despite a leg injury that sidelined him for three weeks. “I am going to Toluca to get the go-ahead and see if I can play,” the 6’4” Mulege native said. “Here at home, I’ve been walking and exercising. I get my therapy and I will know exactly when I can play.”

Amador says he plans to head to the Guasave Algodoneros’ training camp when his time in Florida is up. “I’ll report to Guasave immediately after my commitment to the Mets. I think that between October 5 and 10 I’ll be completely ready for Guasave.”

Last winter, Amador hit .270 with 7 homers for Guasave in 44 Mexican Pacific League games.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

LIGA CONSIDERING RETURN TO INTERZONAL SCHEDULE

After two seasons of limiting their regular season schedule only to games between teams within the same division, the Mexican League is contemplating a return to interzonal play in 2011. LMB President Plinio Escalante said that while teams were restricted to competition within their respective zones in 2009 and 2010 to save on travel costs, fans missed out on seeing the best Liga players from outside their own divisions.

One idea being floated for next year is four each Liga team to entertain four teams from outside their division in home series while taking to the road for games against the remaining four external teams. While there is a chance that all 16 teams would engage in home-and-away series in 2011, it is not as likely because of travel expenses.

Still, Escalante says, “The majority of team presidents are thinking about the return of interzonal play because the fans demand it.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

MEXICALI SIGNS PITCHER SISCO TO WINTER CONTRACT

The Mexicali Aguilas have signed 6’10” pitcher Andy Sisco to a contract for the upcoming Mexican Pacific League season.

Sisco began his professional baseball career with the Chicago Cubs’ Arizona Rookie League team in 2001. He was at one time a highly-regarded Cubs prospect, but his star gradually fell and he ended up being picked by Kansas City in the 2004 Rule V draft. Sisco spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the Royals, going 3-8 with a 4.87 ERA in 132 relief appearances. He was dealt to the Chicago White Sox and went 0-1 with a 8.39 ERA in 18 trips from the bullpen before being released after the 2007 season. Sisco missed the 2008 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery before pitching for the Athletics and Giants organizations the past two years.

Sisco gained notoriety his first time south of the border while with Mazatlan in 2006 when a team official spotted him munching a taco in the ballpark concourse during the first inning of a ballgame. Sisco was released the next day…after tossing six innings of two-run ball.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

MEXICAN LEAGUE ANNOUNCES POSTSEASON AWARD-WINNERS

The Mexican League has issued its postseason honors for the recently-concluded 2010 season, with all winners hailing from LMB South teams:


MOST VALUABLE PLAYER-Willis Otanez, Puebla (Led the Liga with a .393 batting average, hitting 12 homers and driving in 76 run, and will play winter ball for Licey in the Dominican League).


BEST PITCHER-Bobby Cramer, Quintana Roo (Topped the LMB in six pitching categories, finishing with a 13-3 record and 2.95 ERA. PCL Pitcher of Week with Sacramento for August 16-22).


BEST RELIEVER-Luis Ramirez, Puebla (Earned LMB-high 30 saves in 33 opportunities and finished at 3-3 with 3.86 ERA in 48 appearances. Ramirez may pitch in Culiacan this winter).


ROOKIE OF THE YEAR-Hector Velazquez, Campeche (Began season as reliever but finished as important starter for Piratas, ending with 6-4 record and second-best Liga ERA at 2.93).


MANAGER OF THE YEAR-Houston Jimenez, Puebla (Salon de la Fama member led Pericos to best record in Liga with 68-39 mark and berth in finals. Has 600-441 career record managing in Mexico).