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B a s e b a l l M e x i c o
November 20, 2 0 1 7
Forged passport, prospect sale kickback, Rookiegate on LMB plate
It’s been anything but a quiet offseason for the Mexican League even when you don’t factor in the franchise move from Veracruz to Nuevo Laredo or the creation of two 57-game seasons with playoffs between late March and early October 2018.
The LMB has fined the Yucatan Leones 5 million pesos (about US$263,000) for registering Cuban outfielder Ronnier Mustelier with a fake passport. That discussion at the LMB’s recent Assembly of Presidents meeting was led by a claim from Tabasco Olmecas president Jose Luis Dagdug that Campeche had done something similar with another Cuban outfielder, former international star Alfredo DeSpaigne, who is now playing in Japan. The topic swung to Mustelier’s passport, which the Mexico City Attorney General’s office investigated and found to be falsified.
Mustelier was brought into Yucatan as one of six allowed foreigners in 2017 and hit .318 with one homer in 48 games for the LMB South regular season champs but went 4-for-27 in the playoffs as the Leones lost to Puebla in the Division Championship Series. The 33-year-old Mustelier, who won’t face an LMB suspension in 2018, was released by Yucatan in early October. He’s hitting .337 with 16 RBIs and 14 runs scored in 28 games for Culiacan in the MexPac.
Then there’s the matter of Luis Heredia’s 2012 signing with Pittsburgh for a reported $2.7 million. That transaction appears to have been the final straw for the Pirates, who fired Latin America scouting director Rene Gayo after it was determined that he received a kickback in the signing of Heredia, who was 16 at the time.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports Gayo was compensated by a Mexican League team for delivering Heredia to the Pirates. Since Veracruz held his rights in Mexico, all signs seem to point at owner Jose Antonio Mansur, who moved the team to Nuevo Laredo last month although there are questions as to whether his is the franchise’s legal owner. Heredia was released by the Pirates after never rising above AA ball and is expected to pitch for Mazatlan this winter. Venados GM Jesus Valdez has been the Bucs’ top scout in Mexico for years and was instrumental in landing Heredia.
Finally, the LMB has made a statement regarding their investigation into the transfer of five prospects from Quintana Roo to Mexico City last winter just before the Tigres were sold to former Cy Young winner Fernando Valenzuela and his wife Linda Burgos. Two of those teenaged prospects were subsequently sold by the Diablos Rojos to the Texas Rangers for over $2.5 million last summer. The common thread appears to be current Diablos GM Francisco “Pollo” Minjarez, who was an assistant GM in Quintana Roo when the deal allegedly occurred, then moved to the nation’s capital and the Diablos after the sale.
The Liga says they are working on the restructuring of their player transfer protocols but added nothing about the transaction in question between the Tigres and Diablos, which means the Valenzuelas, who took a financial beating in Cancun this summer, will be calling Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred’s office in New York soon, if they haven’t already.
FROM MEXICO, VISIT