Monday, December 7, 2015

NAVOJOA UP TWO ON MOCHIS, OBREGON IN LMP

Despite falling to Fabian Cota (left) and the Los Mochis Caneros, 8-2, Sunday night in Mochis, the Navojoa Mayos head into Monday’s series opener against Hermosillo with a two-game lead in the Mexican Pacific League’s second half standings.  Mochis and Obregon are tied for second.

Cota pitched six shutout innings for the Caneros (10-5), allowing only a Gerardo Andrade single in the sixth while striking out four Navojoa (10-5) batsmen for his first win.  The 23-year-old lefty has been a middleman most of the winter for Los Mochis, the same role he filled for Mexico City last summer.  D’Arby Myers had two hits, including his fourth homer, and 3 RBIs for Mochis. Navojoa had won the first two games of the series: a 2-0 shutout Friday behind seven innings from starter Eddie Gamboa and a 2-1 as starter Hector Velazquez went to 5-1 by blanking the hosts over 6.1 frames.
The Obregon Yaquis (8-7) took two of three home games against the Hermosillo Naranjeros (7-7) to pull into a second-place tie with Mochis.  The last-place Mazatl├ín Venados (5-10) won two against the Culiacan Tomateros (7-8) at Estadio Teodoro Mariscal while the Mexicali Aguilas (7-7) outscored the Jalisco Charros (7-8) twice at home in El Nido.

Mexicali’s Welington “Duke” Dotel has cooled down the past couple weeks but continues to lead the MexPac in batting with a .349 average.Dotel is just 4-of-33 over his past eight games. Jalisco’s Japhet Amador, who is still in The Land of the Winter Sun despite earlier rumors having him headed to Japan, has stayed atop the LMP with 13 homers and 42 RBI’s.  Rico Noel, who has stayed in Culiacan despite a near dugout fistfight with Tomateros skipper Benji Gil last month, leads the league with 21 stolen bases.

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

OLIVO RE-UPS FOR THIRD SUMMER IN TIJUANA

Longtime major league catcher Miguel Olivo has signed on for another Mexican League season with the Tijuana Toros in 2016. Olivo hit .281 with 14 homers and 56 RBI’s for Tijuana last summer. Mexican teams have historically been unafraid to let veterans continue to play in the field, and the Toros put Olivo behind the plate in 75 of his 89 games. He responded with a .995 fielding average over 555 chances.  The 37-year-old Dominican batted .309 with 9 homers for TJ in 2014 after being released by the Dodgers from their AAA affiliate in Albuquerque.

Olivo made his pro debut with the Athletics Arizona Rookie League squad in 1998 and turned in a .311 average.  He broke into the majors with the Chicago White Sox in 1993, hitting .211 in a six-game cup of coffee.  Over the course of his 13-year MLB career in which he changed teams eight times, Olivo hit just .240 but displayed extra-base power with 177 doubles and 145 homers among his 905 lifetime hits.  He belted 12 or more roundtrippers eight times between 2004 and 2012.  
A suspect fielder in MLB, where Olivo led his league in passed balls four times and errors another three, but has not been regarded as a liability with a glove in Tijuana under skipper Eddy Diaz, who platooned him with veteran receiver Adan Munoz during the Toros’ 54-53 regular season and two rounds of playoff action.  Olivo has been a part-timer for Jalisco this winter, batting .211 with 1 homer in 11 games for the Charros and skipper Juan Navarrete, a former Expos farmhand and Salon de la Fama member.