Thursday, September 22, 2016

MLB restricts 12 Mexicans from playing in MexPac, "extreme fatigue" cited

One of the banes of existence for winter baseball in Mexico and other Caribbean nations is the "extreme fatigue" clause in contracts between players and Major League Baseball organizations.  The clause allows MLB teams to determine which of their players are (in essence) too tired to play winterball after the major and minor league summer schedules are completed.  Twelve such Mexican players have been ruled out from competing in the Mexican Pacific League this winter, including four for Hermosillo.

The Naranjeros will be without pitchers Jorge de la Rosa (Rockies), Jaime Garcia (Cardinals), Cesar Vargas (Padres) and Adrian Rodriguez (Reds) this winter.  De la Rosa (pictured) has won 101 MLB games since his debut in late 2004, winning 16 contests for the Rockies in 2009 and 2013.  He's pitched 134 innings for Colorado this season, including 24 starts, and has an 8-9 record. Garcia is 10-2 for St. Louis over 170 innings in 2016.  The 24-year-old Vargas is 0-3 after seven starts for San Diego and has pitched a total of 46.2 innings this year.  Rodriguez, who turned 20 last month, tossed 33.2 frames for the Reds' Rookie affiliate in Billings, with his last pitch coming against Great Falls on July 29.

Obregon will have to make do without three players: pitchers Dallas Martinez (Yankees) and Samuel Zazueta (Rangers) plus third baseman Christian Villanueva (Cubs).  All three missed the 2016 season with injuries.  The Yaquis will particularly miss Villanueva, who was BBM's Most Valuable Player last winter after hitting .322 with nine homers in 64 games and playing good defense at the hot corner.

Other players sitting out the winter will be Los Mochis pitchers Marco Estrada (Jays) and Luis Niebla (Yankees); Culiacan hurlers Rafael Ordaz (Yankees) and Carlos Torres (Brewers); and Jalisco reliever Roberto Osuna, who has had an outstanding year with AL East-leading Toronto and wasn't too fatigued to strike out all four Seattle batters he faced on 19 pitches Wednesday night.

While there was no assurance that the likes of de la Rosa, Villanueva or Osuna would've played ball in Mexico this winter, MLB has made that decision for them (something MLB never gets fatigued from doing).


Diablos, Oaxaca to field Mexican-only nines in 2017

The Mexico City Diablos Rojos and Oaxaca Guerreros have announced their intentions to play the 2017 Mexican League season with teams consisting entirely of Mexican players.  The Puro Beisbol website has posted a press release from the Diablos stating that the two teams will be relying on homegrown talent next year, with a large number of players having spent time at the Alfredo Harp Helu Baseball Academy in San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca.

The academy, named after the Diablos' billionaire owner and a longtime proponent of developing domestic baseball talent in Mexico, opened its doors on November 12, 2009.  Since then, more than 600 prospects have attended the academy, with 38 of them now toiling with Major League Baseball organizations (including Toronto closer Roberto Osuna and Dodgers wunderkind pitcher Julio Cesar Urias, who was rated the #4 prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the current season).

Mexico City currently has 77 graduates on their reserve list, with 13 who played at Estadio Fray Nano during the recently-concluded season.  One, pitcher Alexandro Delgado, went 11-1 with a 2.83 ERA for the Red Devils while shortstop Juan Carlos Gamboa batted .321 with 9 homers.  Oaxaca has a total of 36 ABAHH products in tow, including ten Guerreros in 2016.  Nineteen-year-old pitcher Erick Casillas was 1-3 with a 4.67 ERA as a reliever last summer while 21-year-old Luis Medina played three infield positions and hit .259 for Oaxaca.

The change in team policies means that some foreign players would need to find new teams in Mexico next spring.  Californian first baseman Cyle Hankerd, member of Mazatlan's Caribbean Series title team last winter, batted .322 with 16 homers and 74 RBIs for Mexico City this season while veteran Venezuelan catcher Eliezer Alfonso hit .342 with 14 homers in 69 contests for the Diablos.

This would not be the first time all-Mexican teams take the field in the LMB.  For years, Tigres' owner Alejo Peralta, who played for Veracruz in the Thirties before going on to become one of the richest men in the country, took considerable pride in his team winning Liga pennants primarily using home-grown talent.  Playing in Puebla, the Tigres celebrated their 50th anniversary season with an all-Mexican roster in 2005 and went on to win the franchise's ninth (of twelve) championship that year.


Summer BBM Awards next week, "Golden Greats" book taking shape

While Baseball Mexico has been taking a breather since last week's conclusion of the Mexican League season with Puebla's win over Tijuana in the Serie del Rey, things have been moving forward behind the scenes.

Our revived annual Summer Award winners will be announced next week.  There were no Bammys given during BBM's hiatus from 2012 through 2015.  For a trip down Memory Lane, here are the 2011 Summer Bammy winners:

Manager of the Year:  Daniel Fernandez, Veracruz Rojos Aguilas
Newcomer of the Year:  Doug Clark, Quintana Roo Tigres
Pitcher of the Year:  Francisco Campos, Campeche Piratas
Most Valuable Player:  Luis Terrero, Mexico City Diablos Rojos
Playoff MVP:  Pablo Ortega, Quintana Roo Tigres

Also coming in October, there will be wraps for all Mexican summer leagues, from the Liga through the Academy League near Monterrey.

BBM's planned "Golden Greats of Mexican Baseball" book commemorating fifty top players in the history of Mexican baseball is also coming together.  The preliminary format for "Golden Greats" will include two pages devoted to each player, with two photos, career MLB and/or LMB stats (and hopefully LMP stats, too), biographical data and 500-word profiles.  A draft list of fifty players has been put together to feature five players each at catcher, first base, second base, third base and shortstop, ten outfielders and fifteen pitchers.  Up to ten more non-players will be featured, there'll be a history of Mexican baseball and a four-page chapter on Hector Espino, easily the nation's most beloved and respected ballplayer.  The hope is that "Golden Greats" will be ready for release in time for Christmas.  That's the HOPE.