Mexico is a bit of an engima. They play lots of baseball in Mexico, but it’s still far from the passion they have for futbol. They have a big professional league of their own that is regarded by MLB as being about AAA level, yet they don’t have that many Major Leaguers, although they are bolstered by some players who were born in the USA but spent much of their childhood in Mexico.
Therefore, Mexico is a bit harder to project, as they have very few MLB players but plenty of ballplayers overall. Thus this involved far more research and statistical searching to compile than, say, the previous WBC projections. That said, I have come up with a roster that fits the criteria I have been following so far:
As always, these are the rules of how I pick this roster, a combination of the official WBC rules on rosters and some unwritten rules that emerged during the first two tournaments:
- Any player coming off a major injury or who has a history of injuries is unlikely to participate. This is especially true for the pitchers.
- Players that will be on new teams are less likely to participate, but shouldn’t be completely ignored, with the exception of pitchers.
- Teams are made up of 28 players, of which 13 of them must be pitchers and two of them catchers.
- The pitch count rules make relievers extremely important.
Therefore, without further ado, my projections for the 2013 Mexican National Team (after the jump)
Manager: Mario Mendoza
Yes, this is the same Mario Mendoza who lent his name to the “Mendoza line”, although, ironically, he hit a career .215, not .200. He managed Team Mexico in the 2011 Pan American Games, so I figure he’d be likely to do it again in 2013, unless Vinny Castilla wants the job again- he was the Skipper in 2009.
Catchers: Miguel Ojeda, Roman Ali Solis, Geronimo Gil
Ojeda is a veteran catcher who was in MLB during the mid-2000s but who continues to play- and play well- in Mexico. Solis is in the Padres’ organization and was hitting .292 in AA as of this writing. Gil, a former Oriole, is now a reliable catcher in Mexico.
First Basemen: Adrian Gonzalez, Jorge Vazquez
Although he was born in the USA, Adrian Gonzalez spent part of his childhood in Mexico, and played for the Mexican national team in 2006 and 2009. Jorge Vazquez is a Mexican Leaguer who spent time in the Yankees system.
Second Basemen: Maxwell Leon
Leon, a former Tigers farmhand, plays both second and the outfield in the Mexican League, where he is currently hitting .299.
Third Basemen: Jose Amador,
Amador is one of the leading home run hitters in the Mexican League this season.
Shortstop: Walter Ibarra
Ibarra is a infielder in the Yankees system, currently in AA. He’s only played 22 games this season due to finger soreness, but that isn’t as major an injury as other things, so I’m including him.
Outfielders: Leonardo Heras, Jorge Guzman, Karim Garcia, Albino Contreras, Mario Valenzuela
Heras, a slugging Mexican Leaguer, is usually in CF and played for Team Mexico in the 2011 Pan Am Games. Guzman is another Mexican Leaguer who played for Team Mexico in 2011. He hit 39 homers in the 2011 Mexican League season and already has more than 20 this year- he plays 1B as well.
Karim Garcia is a veteran who has played almost everywhere, although Pedro Martinez wanted to know who he was. Mario Valenzuela played for Mexico in 2006 and 2009 who is hitting .379 as of this writing with Mexico City.
Finally, there is Albino Contreras, another Mexican Leaguer who was on the 2011 Pan Am roster who has continued to hit well this season in Mexico.
Utilities: Ramiro Pena, Alfredo Amezaga
Ramiro Pena has had appearances with the Yankees the last three years and is currently in AAA for them, where he is a utility infielder. Alfredo Amezaga, in the Cubs system, is a similar former big-leaguer who can play basically anywhere.
Starting Pitchers: Luis Mendoza, Hector Velazquez, Tomas Solis, Miguel Ramirez
Yovani Gallardo, by far the best Mexican-born starting pitcher in the game today, isn’t included as he didn’t partake in the previous WBCs and moved to the US when he was very young, so I don’t think he’ll be taking part for Mexico this time either. A similar caveat with Jaime Garcia, with the additional point that he is injured. Jorge De La Rosa has been out since last June when he had surgery and still hasn’t played this season, so it’s doubtful he’d be available for 2013.
Thus, the only true starter for Mexico from MLB isn’t even a full-time starter: Luis Mendoza has made seven starts (out of 12 appearances) for the Royals. In fact, several of the guys underneath in the relievers category could also act as starters.
The rest of the rotation is made up of guys you probably have never heard of, and who I hadn’t heard of until I started doing research for this: Hector Veazquez is one of the leading pitchers in the Mexican League. So is Tomas Solis, who is also a left-hander- he’s had a breakout year in Veracruz this season. Finishing the rotation is Miguel Ramirez, who has a 2.07 ERA for Quintana Roo this season as of this writing.
Relievers: Alfredo Aceves, Fernando Salas, Miguel Gonzalez, Oliver Perez, Rodrigo Lopez, Francisco Rodriguez, Edgar Gonzalez, Rodolfo Aguilar, Adrian Garza
Luis Ayala isn’t included due to the fact he’ll be a free agent this winter. That said, if he did decide to play, he’d be in. Joakim Soria is hurt and hasn’t pitched all year, so it is doubtful he’d play in the WBC.
Alfredo Aceves, of course, is a member of the Red Sox bullpen. He’s usually either very good or very bad. But he always finds his way into games. Fernando Salas is another MLB reliever, a member of the Cardinals, although he was optioned to AAA for a brief stretch this season after early struggles, he is now back up.
Miguel Gonzalez has only played two games this year in MLB, but has a 1.63 ERA in AAA as of this writing, where he also has done some starting. Oliver Perez, the veteran lefty, is trying to resurrect his career as a reliever for the Mariners. It’s likely that he’ll be playing in the 2013 WBC as a audition for interested teams.
Rodrigo Lopez, who also is sort of now in the netherworld between starting and relieving, would also probably be using the 2013 WBC as an audition.
Francisco Rodriguez- not to be confused with the Venezuelan Francisco Rodriguez- is in the Angels system and has had stints with the Halos in 2010 and 2011. Similarly, Edgar Gonzalez is a pitcher who has had sporadic appearances in the Majors over the years, but is now in AAA for the Rockies organization.
Rodolfo Aguilar is a young left-hander who has a sub-2 ERA for Oaxaca this season in the Mexican League. Adrian Garza is one of the leaders in saves in Mexico.
So, what type of lineup might be trotted out by Mario Mendoza? Perhaps it would look like something like this:
1.Leonardo Heras, CF
2. Maxwell Leon, 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Jorge Guzman, DH
5. Mario Valenzuela, RF
6. Karim Garcia, LF
7. Miguel Ojeda, C
8. Ramiro Pena, 3B
9. Alfredo Amezaga, SS
Starter: Luis Mendoza