Shortstop Niko Vasquez went 4-for-4 with a homer and double while starter Zack Dodson pitched six innings of two-hit shutout ball to lead the Navojoa Mayos to a 10-0 thrashing of the Los Mochis Caneros Tuesday night in Mexican Pacific League play Tuesday night. A gathering of 4,931 looked on at Navojoa's Estadio Manuel "Ciclon" Echeverria as the Mayos extended their second half record to 9-4, good enough for a one-game lead over 8-5 Mexicali in the LMP standings. The Caneros dropped to sixth with a 6-7 mark.
Vasquez spent five years in the Cardinals system and another three in the independent Frontier League before joining Laguna of the Mexican League this summer, batting .275 with 17 homers in 100 games for the Vaqueros. He's gone 7-of-9 over the past two games for the Mayos to lift his MexPac average to .356 this winter. Dodson, who went 31-45 in seven years as a Pirates farmhand before going 2-1 for Laredo of the independent American Association in 2016, raised his record for the Mayos to 4-3 after his third consecutive strong outing. He's allowed two earned runs while striking out 16 in 18 innings. Dodson had been traded to the Orioles last winter but was suspended for 100 games in 2016 after receiving the third drug-related sitdown of his career.
After a disastrous first half, during which they won just 9 of 35 games, Mazatlan has won 7 of 12 in the second stanza to pull into third place in the MexPac behind Navojoa and Mexicali. Conversely, first-half champion Culiacan is in the cellar after losing 10 of 13 games.
Jalisco 3B Agustin Murillo has a .349 batting average to top both Hermosillo OF Chris Roberson and Los Mochis OF Leandro Castro by one point at the top of the hitting tables. A Roberson teammate, Naranjeros third baseman Jose Amador, hasn't homered since November 24 but still leads the MexPac with 12 homers, ahead of Navojoa OF Quincy Latimore's nine dingers and Hermosillo 1B David Washington's eight. Culiacan OF Joey Meneses leads in RBI's with 40, one ahead of Jose Amador, while fellow Tomateros OF Ronnie Mustelier is tops with 34 runs scored.
Navojoa's rookie sensastion, Cuban SS Randy Arozarena, has taken the lead with 15 stolen bases while Obregon OF Corey Wimberly is second with 14 swipes. Arozarena, who signed with St. Louis for $1.25 million last year and led the Northern Mexican League with a .377 average and 42 steals for Tecate this summer, is hitting .331 for the Mayos. Baseball America's Ben Badler says, "Based on his present ability, Arozarena should be ready for a High Class A assignment, although the Cardinals haven't yet said where he'll begin his career." The 21-year-old Arozarena played short, second and center field for Pinar Del Rio in the Cuban National Series, batting .291 his last season in 2014-15 before defecting to Mexico. His Mexican League rights are held by the Tijuana Toros.
Mexicali pitcher Javier Solano (7-3) won four straight starts between November 11 and 29 to take the LMP lead with seven wins. Navojoa's Hector Velazquez (6-2) was racked up in Jalisco for ten hits and six runs Saturday befor being yanked in the fifth, but he still has six wins (second in the loop), a 2.49 ERA (third) and 65 strikeouts (first) after ten starts. Hermosillo's Juan Pablo Oramos (4-1) leads with a 1.88 ERA. Mexicali closer Jake Sanchez is in the midst of a phenomenal season. Sanchez, an A's farmhand who converted to relief with AA Midland last summer, has yet to allow an earned run in 19 one-inning appearances and leads the LMP with 12 saves.