Monday, December 7, 2015

LIGA LIFTS BLACKLIST OF MLB/MiLB VETERANS

The VICE Sports website reports that a longstanding gentlemen’s agreement among Mexican League teams barring native-born Major or Minor league veterans who did not originally sign with them as prospects has been called off.

A story by writer David Mark Simpson quotes a November 13 Beisbol Mundial article in which Veracruz Rojos Aguilas owner Jose Antonio Mansur as saying the unwritten agreement is being eliminated, allowing players who’ve been playing ball north of the border to return home and play summer ball in their home country.  The VICE Sports story names such players as Amadeo Zazueta (above) as one of the potential beneficiaries of the lifting of the blacklist, which seemed unwarranted in Zazueta’s case.  

A Culiacan native, Zazueta tried out for a number of Mexican League teams as a teen before signing a free agent contract with Houston in 2003. After three years in the Astros system, Zazueta has since shuttled back and forth between independent leagues and stints in the Atlanta, San Diego and Toronto systems.  He spent last summer batting .260 in 117 games as a middle infielder with the Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters. No such rule exists in the Mexican Pacific League, where Zazueta is currently with Jalisco for his seventh season of winterball.
One of the unique aspects of Mexican baseball is that, unlike elsewhere, Liga teams will typically sign contracts with homegrown prospects before they’re old enough to sign free-agent contracts with MLB organizations or other foreign teams.  It can be a business bonanza for LMB franchises. When Veracruz sold the rights to 16-year-old pitching prospect Luis Heredia of Mazatlan to the Pittsburgh Pirates for $2.6 million in 2011, $1.8 million of that went to the Rojos Aguilas. Simpson adds that several sources claim that some Mexican League teams garner more revenue from player sales than ticket sales.

The flip side is that MLB organizations have for years bypassed Mexican prospects in favor of those from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela because they can sign multiple players for the same cost a single Mexican teen would cost.
However, not every LMB majordomo has signed off on allowing prodigal sons to come home. Mexico City Diablos Rojos president Roberto Mansur (yes, he’s related to Jose Antonio...the Mansur family has been well-represented in Mexican baseball for decades) says he will continue to employ only Mexican players who first signed with Liga teams as teens.  According to Solo Beisbol, Mansur told a Mexico City newspaper that he will continue to promote players from the Red Devils Academy and winter farm teams rather than sign expats returning from the States without first signing with a Mexican team.

Thanks to BBM reader Callum Hughson for the story tip.  Email BaseballMexico@live.com if you have an interesting story on Mexican baseball.  It only SEEMS like I see everything.   -Bruce

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