Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Reinforcement draft held for MexPac semis; important Liga meeting in Mexico City

On Tuesday, the Mexican Pacific League's four remaining playoff teams held a two-round draft of reinforcement players, mostly from the two clubs eliminated after the first round, the Mazatlan Venados and Navojoa Mayos.  Left handed pitcher Arturo Lopez was picked by his hometown Culiacan Tomateros from the Obregon roster after being passed over in the first reinforcement draft at the conclusion of the regular season.  Five of the eight selected were pitchers. LMP wins and ERA champion Hector Velazquez of Navojoa (pictured) was chosen first overall by Mexicali.

Here are the results of the reinforcement draft, in order of selection:

FIRST ROUND
1. Mexicali, RHP Hector Velazquez (Navojoa)
2. Hermosillo, RHP Jeremy Kehrt (Mazatlan)
3. Culiacan, LHP Zach Dodson (Navojoa)
4. Los Mochis, 2B Yosmany Guerra (Navojoa)

SECOND ROUND
5. Los Mochis, 3B Brian Hernandez (Mazatlan)
6. Culiacan, LHP Arturo Lopez (Obregon)
7. Hermosillo, RHP Esteban Haro (Navojoa)
8. Mexicali, 3B Jesus Castillo (Navojoa)

The semifinals get underway Wednesday night when Culiacan sends Pat McCoy to the mound in Los Mochis to face Manny Barreda of the Caneros, while Hermosillo (Pablo Ortega) visits Mexicali (Efren Delgado).

Meanwhile, a critical meeting of Mexican League team governors was slated to begin Wednesday in Mexico City.  The Liga is facing numerous issues this offseason, including ballparks in Durango and Leon, Guanajuato.  November's transfers of the Carmen Delfines to Durango, where they're now known as the Generales, and the Reynosa Broncos to Leon, where they've adopted the Bravos nickname used by a previous local entry in the LMB, were contingent on improvements being made to existing ballparks in both cities.  However, it appears that neither are on track to be remotely "ready" for the 2017 season.  Leon's Estadio Domingo Santana seats just 3,000 spectators while Durango's Estadio Francisco Villa holds 8,000 fans.  Speculation is that one of the teams may move again, this time to Nuevo Laredo, while another theory is that both may be contracted, leaving the Mexican League with 14 teams for the coming season.

Even more important is the still-simmering schism regarding the use of players of Mexican descent born in the USA in 2017.  In a year during which "fake news" became a catchphrase in the American presidential campaign, the LMB itself apparently approved a story stating that it had been agreed that each team could carry up to nine Mexican-American players in addition to six other imports (or extraneros) on their roster.  It has since been learned that no such agreement had been arrived at by the full board of governors and that the issue remains unresolved.  Some teams are opposed to allowing large numbers of foreign players at the expense of domestic talent, others say they need more extraneros to be competitive on the field because they can't afford to develop Mexican prospects.  One possible outcome if calmer heads don't prevail in the debate may be that the LMB splits into two leagues, each comprising the separate schools of thought, while a more drastic scenario has the Liga suspending operations for 2017 to reorganize for the 2018 season.

Whatever the result (if any), it will be arrived at without Plinio Escalante.  The LMP president walked out of the meeting and told media representatives that he was quitting his post, and that any decisions made thereafter would be invalid.  Escalante, who has headed the Liga for a decade, says he will be talking to his attorney regarding compensation.  Later, a representative of the league governors told the media that Escalante had been let go by the owners.  Other than that, things are going great.