Bruce Baskin / Latin Insider
B a s e b a l l M e x i c o
DECEMBER 28, 2 0 1 5
YAQUIS BEAT HERMOSILLO, CLINCH SECOND HALF TITLE
Obregon 5, Hermosillo 3
The Obregon Yaquis parlayed a three-run sixth inning into a 5-3 win over the Hermosillo Naranjeros Sunday night to clinch the Mexican Pacific League’s second-half title and the eight points that come with it. A crowd of 13,172 gathered at Obregon’s Estadio Tomas Oroz Gaytan.
Dustin Martin lined his fifth homer of the winter over the right field wall in the bottom of the first to stake the Yaquis an early lead, but the Orangemen knotted the score at 2-2 in the top of the sixth when Mario Santana singled with the bases loaded and Carlos Gastelum followed with a sacks-full walk. Obregon broke the game open in the bottom half of the frame, keyed by Max Ramirez’ two-run double off Hermosillo starter Edgar Gonzalez.
Yaquis reliever Angel Ramirez got his first win by retiring the last Naranjeros batter in the sixth before the winning runs came along while Josh Judy tossed a scoreless ninth for his eighth save. Gonzalez fell to 3-5 with the loss. Hermosillo actually outhit Obregon 12-6 for the night as Jose Amador went 3-for-5, but the Naranjeros left 11 runners stranded on base and batted just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Obregon is now 20-11 with two games left in the half, three games up on both Navojoa and fast-rising Mazatlan. Hermosillo fell to 15-15 and hold fourth place.
Mazatlan 8, Jalisco 1
Esteban Quiroz had three singles, drove in three runs and scored two more to lead Mazatlan to an 8-1 win over Jalisco Sunday in a contest of two teams heading in opposite directions before 13,101 onlookers at Estadio Teodoro Mariscal in Mazatlan. The win was the Venados’ ninth straight (starting December 16) while the Charros have lost 12 of their last 14 contests. Alejandro Soto went six strong innings, allowing one run on three hits in combining with three Mazatlan reliever on a five-hitter. Soto evened his record at 4-4 while his ERA dropped to a sparkling 2.63. Jeremias Pinedas stole two bases to take sole league leadership in that category with 28 and scored three times for the Venados.
Mazatlan was sitting in last place when Juan Jose Pacho took over as manager from Miguel Ojeda on December 9, but have gone 12-3 under Pacho to move into a tie for second with Navojoa at 17-14. Jalisco has plummeted to 11-20 and have clinched last place in the second half.
Navojoa 9, Los Mochis 1
The Navojoa Mayos plated seven runs over the first two innings and cruised to a 9-1 win over Los Mochis Sunday as 6,834 attendees watched at Estadio Manuel “Ciclon” Chavarria in Navojoa.
Quincy Latimore poled his tenth homer of the season for the Mayos, a three-run blast in the second that gave the hosts their 7-0 lead. Starter Eddie Gamboa continued his strong winter for Navajoa by allowing one run and scattering three hits over six innings of work, striking out six, to go to 5-2 while lowering his ERA to 3.12. Caneros hurler Derrick Miramontes (5-6) was chased early after allowing five runs on as many hits in just over one inning. Antonio Lamas had two of Mochis’ four hits. Navojoa is now 17-14 while Mochis falls to 14-17.
Culiacan 8, Mexicali 1
Hector Daniel Rodriguez pitched seven innings of one-hit shutout ball as the Culiacan Tomeratero posted an 8-1 win over Mexicali as 19,851 spectators looked on in the Sinaloa city Sunday night. C.J. Retherford was the only Mexicali batsman to reach base off Rodriguez by slicing a leadoff single to center in the second, but Retherford was cut down in an inning-ending double play as Rodriguez (7-3/3.00) faced the minimum 21 batters over his seven frames, whiffing five Mexicali batters.
Jose Manuel Orozco whacked a two-run homer for Culiacan while leadoff batter Rico Noel singled three times and scored twice. With the win, Culiacan raised their record to 15-16 while Mexicali dropped to 14-16.
EDGAR GONZALEZ TO MANAGE MEXICO IN WBC QUALIFIER
Mexicali Aguilas manager Edgar Gonzalez has been named to lead Mexico's national team in an upcoming World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament.
Gonzalez led Mexicali to the Mexican Pacific League's first-half title and has the Aguilas well-positioned for a postseason run. He won't have to leave town for the qualifier, which will be held in Mexicali between March 17 and 20 and include teams from Germany, Nicaragua and the Czech Republic along with Mexico.
The host nation will be the heavy favorites, with a passel of MLB pitchers like Yovani Gallardo, Roberto Osuna, Miguel Gonzalez and Joakim Soria likely to be added to Mexico's initial 50-man roster. Whether big league teams allow those players to leave spring training to take part in the Mexicali games is another matter. It's anything but automatic, although the MLB office is likely to employ persuasive tactics on franchises to support the WBC, former commissioner Bud Selig's brainchild that made its debut in 2006.
The 37-year-old Gonzalez was born in San Diego in 1978 and was selected by Tampa Bay in the 30th round of the 2000 draft while playing college ball for his hometown UCSD. After nine seasons and five different organizations in the minors, Edgar made his MLB debut for San Diego on May 12, 2008 against the Cubs, singling off Carlos Zambrano in his first plate appearance in the seventh inning. Gonzalez went on to play parts of 2008 and 2009 with the Padres, hitting .255 with 11 homers in 193 games before returning to the minors. He spent time with Japan's Yomiuri Giants in 2010 and 2012, batting a combined .253 with 16 roundtrippers over 157 NPB contests. Although he primarily played second base in San Diego and Tokyo, Edgar was equally at home playing third with much additional playing time at first, shortstop and the outfield before retiring in 2014.
Gonzalez played for Mexico in both the 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classics alongside brother Adrian, a Dodgers' All-Star first baseman, after the two spent time in 2008 and 2009 in the Padres infield to become the first siblings of Mexican descent to play major league ball on the same team. They also played winter ball several times together with the MexPac's Mazatlan Venados prior to Edgar's retirement as a player.
CAMPESINOS LEAD VERACRUZ WINTER LEAGUE, TEN GAMES LEFT
The Paso de Ovejas Campesinos have a one-game lead over the Acayucan Tobis in the Veracruz Winter League standings with ten games left in the regular season.
The 12-6-1 Campesinos have six players batting .314 or better, including DH Ruben Agramon's .385 and veteran 1B Cristhian Presichi at .377. LF Marcos Vechionacci hits .347 and provides pop with five doubles, five triples and a pair of homers in 19 games. Five Paso de Ovejas pitchers have two wins apiece. Roberto Ramirez (2-0/2.05) has been the most effective.
Acayucan has two outfielder hitting over .360: Daniel Nunez is raking at .367 while Jerry Puentes has a .364 average. Longtime Mexican League hurler Jaciel Acosta is the 10-6-0 Tobis' number one pitcher with a 3-0 record and 14 strikeouts in 23.2 innings. Juan Grijalva has gone 2-0 with a 0.87 ERA and has recorded 11 whiffs over 10.1 frames.
The Xalapa Chileros are third in the LIV standings at 9-9-1 and the defending champion Los Tuxtlas Brujos hold the fourth and final playoff berth with a 9-9-0 mark. Manager Pedro Mere's Brujos are loaded with veterans like RF Luis Terrero, 1B Emmanuel Valdez and DH Karim Garcia. The 7-12 Chiapas Tucanes are fifth while the Pelanque Guacamayas bring up the rear at 5-10-0.
Winter league ball has been played in Veracruz for decades, although this edition dates only to 2005. The LIV has four teams in the state of Veracruz and two in Chiapas. Unlike the independent Mexican Pacific League, all LIV teams are affiliated with Mexican League franchises. The 30-game regular season opens December 1 and closes January 3, followed by two best-of-five semifinal series and a best-of-seven Championship series with Game 7 (if needed) scheduled for January 20.
The postseason winner will advance to the Latin American Series against fellow winter league champions from Colombia, Panama and host Nicaragua, with games slated in Managua between January 28 and February 2. Colombia's Monterio Leones are the defending champions after defeating the Urraca Indios of Panama, 1-0, in the title game. Los Tuxtlas has represented Mexico in all three Serie Latinoamericas, winning the inaugural event at Veracruz in 2013. Xalapa will serve as host in 2017.
SEAN BURROUGHS LANDS IN OBREGON
Sean Burroughs has seen a lot in his 35 years.
The son of 1974 American League MVP Jeff Burroughs, Sean first gained worldwide attention as the star of the Long Beach, California team that won consecutive Little League World Series titles in 1992 and 1993 (throwing consecutive no-hitters one year). Five years after winning his second LLWS, Burroughs was selected as a third baseman with the ninth pick of the 1998 draft by the Padres and turned down a scholarship at USC to sign with San Diego. Two years later, representing Class AA Mobile, he was named the MVP of the All-Star Futures Game, an honor won the previous year by Alfonso Soriano and subsequently by Jose Reyes, Grady Sizemore and Billy Butler, and he was Baseball America's fourth-ranked prospect in the game heading into the 2002 season.
Things haven't quite worked out since as many had expected. While he did start at third for the Padres in 2003 and 2004 (batting .286 and .298, respectively), he never developed into the run producer envisioned and has bounced between the majors and minors ever since, with MLB stops in Tampa Bay, Arizona and Minnesota along the way.
Burroughs quit the game after playing four games for the Mariners' AAA Tacoma affiliate in 2007 and his life off the field eventually spun out of control so that by 2010, he was scuffling for food on the streets of Las Vegas and hopping from motel to motel while dealing with a drug addiction. Burroughs eventually found help, cleaned up and returned to baseball in 2011 with the Arizona Diamonbacks, hitting .273 in 78 games, but driving in only 8 runs. His last MLB experience came in 2012, when he batted .118 in 10 games for Minnesota. He split last summer between Bridgeport and Long Island of the independent Atlantic League, batting a combined .340 with 4 homers and 51 RBI's over 90 games. And now he's with the Yaquis. Or not.
After playing ten games for La Guaira in the Venezuelan League prior to joining the Yaquis, Burroughs made his Yaquis debut last Tuesday in Los Mochis and went 1-for-4 with a run scored. He played all three games in the series against the Caneros, going 2-for-11, before returning to Obregon and bringing his LMP batting average up to .313 by turning in a 3-for-5 night with two doubles, driving in two runs and scoring another in a Yaquis win over Culiacan.
Since then, he hasn't played a game for manager Eddie Diaz' squad, sitting out the final two games against Mochis and Monday's opener against Jalisco in Guadalajara. Internet searches have turned up no explanation for Burroughs' absence following his three-hit night. One possible roadblock to playing time is that he plays the same position as Cubs prospect Christian Villanueva, who is having a terrific season for the Yaquis, but with his history, you hold your breath a little.
Hopefully, Sean Burroughs will resurface with the Yaquis or some other team and find the peace and happiness that's eluded him for years. He's seen enough of everything else.
AMADOR HEADING TO JAPAN, EAGLES FOR 2016
Ending weeks of speculation, Mexico City and Jalisco slugger Japhet Amador will play for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan's Pacific League in 2016. After negotiations that began during last month's baseball's winter meetings in Nashville, Diablos Rojos representatives Roberto Mansur and Roberto Castellano came to terms with Rakuten president Yozo Tachavina that will assign the rights for Amador, the 2015 Mexican League MVP, to the Japanese club next season.
Amador, who turns 29 next month, led the Liga with 41 homers and 117 RBI's last summer to go along with a .346 batting average for the Red Devils. He belted 14 homers in June alone, including a stretch of five consecutive games between June 18 and 21 (starting with both ends of a doubleheader against Carmen on the 18th and continuing with a three-homer game against Campeche a day later) to tie a Mexican League record held by Rene Gonzalez, Nick Castaneda, Jorge Vazquez and Salon de la Fama member Nelson "The Admiral" Barrera.
The 6'4" Amador, nicknamed "The Giant of Mulege," was hitting .288 with a Mexican Pacific League-leading 14 homers and 48 RBI's for Guadalajara's Jalisco Charros before leaving the team after a game with Hermosillo on December 16. He was considered a potential MVP candidate for the winter circuit as well, although that may become less likely with his absence over the final two weeks of the regular season.
Amador will travel to San Francisco for a physical exam, which could be an interesting exercise (so to speak) for the 311-pound first baseman making his first foray into a country where the condition of baseball players has long been of paramount importance. He will then be assigned a date to report to the Sendai-based Eagles for spring training.