Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Aguilas set roster for CS; Rodriguez to start vs. Caguas

Prior to making their first appearance representing Mexico in the Caribbean Series since 1999, the Mexicali Aguilas have set their roster for the week-long event in Culiacan.

Of the 28 players who'll be in uniform for the Eagles, 15 will be pitchers.  Mexicali has added 14 reinforcements from other Mexican Pacific League clubs and a cursory glance at the roster shows a team with experience, versatility, a good mix of power and speed, and (as mentioned) lots and lots of pitching.

The following is the Mexicali roster for the CS.  Reinforcements are noted by their regular season MexPac team in parentheses:

MEXICALI AGUILAS 2017 Caribbean Series roster
Pitchers (15): Tyler Alexander (JAL), Manny Barreda (MOC), Fautino De Los Santos, Barry Enright (HMO), Edgar Gomez, Derrick Loop (CUL), Jose Manuel Lopez, Jose Meraz, Miguel Pena, Oliver Perez (CUL), Hector Daniel Rodriguez (CUL), Sergio Romo (JAL), Jake Sanchez, Javier Solano, Hoctor Velazquez (NAV).
Catchers (2): Xorge Carrillo, Sebastian Valle (MOC).
Infielders (6): Yuniesky Betancourt, Jesse Castillo (NAV), Agustin Murillo (JAL), C.J. Retherford, Ramon Rios, Isaac Rodriguez (MOC),
Oufielders (5): Jason Bourgeois (HMO), Luis Juarez, Yordanys Linares, Ronnier Mustelier (CUL), Chris Roberson.
Manager: Roberto Vizcarra
Coaches: Martin Arzate, Eddy Castro, Jose Angel Chavez, Manuel Del Campo, Luis Enrique Huerta, Mario Mendoza, Armando Valdez.

Skipper Roberto Vizcarra's squad appears capable of providing Mexico its fifth Caribbean Series championship in seven winters, including the Mazatlan Venados last February.  Prior to Obregon's title in 2011, Mexico had won five CS crowns total since the crown jewel of Latin baseball began in 1949 and none before Hermosillo broke through in 1976.  Ironically, no Mazatlan players appear on the Mexicali roster, although Hector Daniel Rodriguez was a reinforcement who went on to win two games in the CS for the Venados. No Obregon players were brought in as reinforcements either.

It's been quite a past couple of months for the 49-year-old Vizcarra, a middle infielder during his two-decade playing career before leading the Quintana Roo Tigres to Mexican League pennants in 2013 and 2015.  The man nicknamed "El Chapo" began the winter managing the Tigres' Uriangato team in the Mexican Winter League before he was named manager in Mexicali on November 18 after Gil Velazquez was fired.  At the time, the Aguilas were 14-17 in the first half but had lost 9 of 11 games before Vizcarra took the reins.  Last winter, Mexicali reached the LMP championship series under first-year helmsman Edgar Gonzalez, who was named BBM's Manager of the Year.

The Aguilas play their first Caribbean Series game Wednesday night at Culiacan's Estadio Tomateros against the Caguas Criollos, champions of Puerto Rico's Roberto Clemente League.  First pitch is scheduled for 8:00PM MST (0300 UTC).  Rodriguez will start for Mexicali.  The lefty was a perfect 4-0 with a 2.52 ERA in four playoff starts in January for his hometown Culiacan Tomateros after going 4-6 during the regular season.  Hector Velazquez will get the start Thursday against Venezuelan champs Licey.