The Would Be Mexican Olympic Roster
Mexico has never really been known as a baseball power house. Their list of accomplishments is nothing remarkable and they have not won gold in any type of baseball championship according to the all-knowing Wikipedia. Mexico has produced some exciting names but the list is short. I think it’s safe to say Dodger Great, Fernando Valenzuela tops the list of players that Mexico has produced. I strongly considered putting him on my roster but at 51 (and the fact that he has not played in the majors since 1997) I was not able to find a spot for “El Toro.”
On to the roster.
I’ll start with my Fernando Valenzuela-less pitching staff. After taking a look at the 2009 Mexico World Baseball Classic roster, there was nothing exciting on the Mexican pitching staff so I am turning to the young guns. The ace of the team will be none other than Roberto Osuna. Osuna is only 17 but after Conor Dowley and I saw the young righty make his Northwest League debut in late July, it’s safe to say that Osuna has stuff well beyond his years.
After Osuna, Pirates Prospect Luis Heredia will be my number two. That’s right– my number one and two starters are 17 and 18 years old. After that I am going to dip into the Mexican League and Fangraphs is kind enough to provide an easy way to find guys for my roster. My third and final spot in my three man rotation goes to the current Mexican League ERA leader, Jesus Castillo. He was drafted in the 27th round of the 2003 draft by the Dodgers but in 2011 he decided to move on to the Mexican League. The 28 year old righty has a 2.41 ERA this year and a 3.03 FIP.
Manny Banuelos just missed out on being in my rotation but the Yankees prospect will fit nicely into my bullpen. Yes, he was shutdown a few days ago by the Yankees due to elbow problems but I could really use Banuelos and Brian Cashman gave me permission. He’ll be a useful left handed set up man and since he’ll be pitching out of the pen, I’m hoping he can dial it up to 96 like reports have said he has touched. My other set up man will be former Pirate, Red, Diamondback, Dodger, Royal, Brewer, Rockie, Brave, and Met; Elmer Dessens. Dessens pitched for 9 different major league teams over the course of 14 seasons. He spent time in both the rotation and bullpen but was primarily a reliever towards the end of his career. He was arguably the best pitcher on the 2009 Mexico WBC roster.
My closer will be none other than Hector Rodriguez of the Saraperos de Saltillo. For those that didn’t know, a Sarapero translates to a sarape maker which is “a long blanket-like shawl, often brightly colored and fringed at the ends.” The 27 year old lefty has dominated the Mexican League as a starter this year, posting a 2.54 ERA and a league leading 2.70 FIP. His league leading 10.38 K/9 is why he’ll be my closer.
The catching duties will go to Phillies prospect, Sebastian Valle. The 22 year old righty was just recently promoted to AAA. Valle will provide solid defense behind the plate and I’m hoping he’ll crack down on his over aggressive approach at the plate and tap into his raw power. He’ll be my number 5 hitter. Geronimo Gil will be my back up catcher and have arguably the best name on the team. He is now 37 and spent 6 years in the majors with the Orioles and Rockies.
I really wish Adrian Gonzalez was manning first base for me but instead I’ll go to Jorge Cantu. Cantu put together back to back good seasons in 2008 and 2009 including a 29 homerun year in 2008. His numbers have not been falling ever since. He signed a minor league contract with the Angels heading into the year and spent some time at AAA but soon enough he elected to become a free agent. I’m hoping Cantu will be able to get back to some of his success from a few years ago and he’ll be my number 3 hitter.
My middle infield will feature Carlos Gastelum at second and Issmael Salas at short. Who? Gastelum, 32 years old, spent 3 years in the Angels organization. He started in rookie ball at 19 but by 22 he began playing in the Mexican League and has played there ever since. He is hitting .363/.431/.483 this year with 9 homeruns and 6 stolen bases. He has consistently posted a solid average and OBP year in and year out. His average ranks second in the Mexican League this year and he’ll be my number 8 hitter. Salas, my starting shortstop, spent 8 years in the Cubs organization before moving on to the Mexican League. He tore up rookie ball when he first signed but his stats declined each year after. The 30 year old is now hitting .333/.392/.575 with 19 homeruns and is one of the best shortstops in the Mexican League. He’ll be my number 7 hitters
Manning third base will be recently traded prospect, Christian Villanueva. He will also be hitting second in the lineup. To back up Villanueva, I’m adding a veteran presence in one of the best Mexican hitters of all time, Vinny Castilla. Castilla manned third base for much of his career and had a career slash of .276/.321/.476 over 16 years with 320 career homeruns. Though he is not starting, I am naming the 45 year old my Captain.
The outfield will feature Alfredo Amezega in left, Leonardo Heras in center, and Karim Garcia in right. Amezega, now 34, has spent all of this year at AAA for the Cubs. He’s been up and down between AAA and the majors now for the last few years with a couple different clubs. He has been used mostly as a super utility guy in his major league career but he will be my starting left fielder and number 9 hitter. Center field will feature one of the top Mexican League players, Leonardo Heras. The 22 year old is hitting .323/.398/.556 with 24 homeruns and 17 stolen bases. He started his career in the Mexican League at 17 and I would not be surprised if he was signed by a major league team in the next couple years. He will be my lead off hitter. In right field will by Karim Garcia who was one of the top hitters on the 2009 Mexico WBC roster. He is hitting .333/.382/.581 with 22 homeruns in the Mexican League this year. He spent 10 years in the majors and last played in 2004 with the Orioles. He’ll be my number 6 hitter.
To round out my lineup will be Edgar Quintero of the Mexican League. The 35 year old lefty will be my designated hitter this year and bat 4th in the lineup. He is hitting .300/.363/.565 with 27 homeruns this year.
This Mexican team certainly lacks the big names compared to some of the big teams and unfortunately, this does not look like a type of roster that will bring home a medal. With that being said though, they could make things difficult for teams and won’t just be walked over. Here is a look at what the potential roster would look like:
1. Leonardo Heras CF
2. Christian Villanueva 3B
3. Jorge Cantu 1B
4. Edgar Quintero DH
5. Sebastian Valle C
6. Karim Garcia RF
7. Issmael Salas SS
8. Carlos Gastelum 2B
9. Alfredo Amezega LF
Geronimo Gil C
Vinny Castilla 3B
Mario Valenzuela OF
German Duran SS
Jose Aguilar OF
1. Roberto Osuna RHP
2. Luis Heredia RHP
3. Jesus Castillo LHP
Setup man: Manny Banuelos LHP
Setup Man: Elmer Dessens RHP
Closer: Hector Rodriguez RHP