Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Top 10 Mexican prospects playing in the United States

From My World of Baseball come the top-10 Mexican prospects playing in the Major Leagues. The Yankees and Cardinals, with 5 of the 10, seem to be actively mining Mexico for players. But it doesn't seem like there is as much interest in Mexico as in other countries. That might be becasue of the peculair relationship between our two countries, and the fact that Mexico has a good, viable, professional league that runs concurrently with MLB.

1. Alfredo Aceves RHP (Yankees) - He originally signed with the Blue Jays in 2001 but they sold his contract to the Mexican League, where he toiled for six years. The Yankees found him down there last year and signed him for $450,000. To the Blue Jays all you can say is “Too bad. So sad. Spin the wheel again Vanna.” In his first year in 2008 he started in high A and it took him only 15 starts to get to AAA. While the Yankee staff struggled with injurikes, Aceves was more than happy to take the ball after eight starts in AAA. He finished the season with a 2.40 ERA after four starts. Yankee fans should not get too excited as his stuff is only average, with a fastball that rarely hits the 90s.

2. Jaime Garcia LHP (Cardinals) - He was born in Mexico but he moved to the United States and went to high school in Texas where he was drafted in the 22nd round.

I don't consider him a Mexican prospect. Just my opinion.

3. Manny Banuelos LHP (Yankees) - Manny is nine years younger than Aceves and the Yankees signed the two pitchers last year. Next month he will turn 18. At least the Yankees hope so. He already throws a fastball in the low 90’s and at 5′10″ 155 pounds that could increase in velocity as he gains some strength. His curveball and change are still developing and both pitches are below average at this point. He should start 2009 in Low A.

4. Edgar Osuna LHP (Braves) - In four years in the minors, three of them in Rookie ball, he has an ERA of 2.51. He’s gone from the Dominican League, to the Gulf Coast
League and to the Appalachian League. He should advance a little more quickly now after his success in Low A South Atlantic, where he was voted pitcher of the year. Edgar is not overpowering, with a fastball in the mid 80s, but he sets it up well with an above average curve ball and an excellent changeup.

5. Fernando Salas RHP (Cardianls) - Fernando represented the Cardinals in last
year’s Future’s game, a remarkable achievement when you consider that he had to be sent back to Mexico because his minor leage debut in 2007 was less than stellar (5.26). One of his strengths is the command of his low 90s fastball. He can locate it up or down, in or out of the strikezone. He did give up 12 homeruns in only 74 innings, so if he gets behind in the count and has to throw a strike the hitters have no problem depositing it in the seats.

6. Jorge Vazquez 1B, (Yankees) - He’s 26 years old and with Juan Miranda in their
system it will be interesting if either player gets an opportunity. He’s 6′2″ 230 while the Cuban is 6′0″ 200, both of them perform similar roles. Miranda will start in AAA and Vazquez at 26 should destroy AA. Jorge had some excellent power numbers in the Mexican League where he was an Allstar three straight years from 2005-2007. His 2008 season saw him clout 18 homeruns and hit .339 in only 56 games. He
continued the assault during the winter league, topping the league in homers with 15, and hitting .348. He also had a .416 OBA.

7. Arnold Leon RHP (Athletics) - The A’s discovered him last year, but per an agreement with the Mexican League club, they had to return him towards the end of the 2008 season so he could particpate in the Mexican League playoff run. In 20 relief appearances he finished with an ERA of 2.86. He should have a full season to pitch in 2009 and at 20 years old has some time to develop. He stands only 5′11″ and as a righthander does not get a lot of plane to his pitches. His fastball travels in the low 90s but his curveball is a sloth like 68 miles per hour.

8. Luis Cruz 2B/SS (Pirates) - Cruz turned down an opportunity to play in the WBC. He is a whiz defensively, but a lack of patience and recognition of breaking pitches makes his offense weak. He was signed by the Red Sox, then traded to the Padres for Cesar Crespo. He was signed by the Pirates as a six year minor league free agent December of last year. In 67 at bats with the Pirates he hit .224. As good as his defense is, he only needs to hit a little to make it as a utility player. In the winter league he hit .277. Cruz was a Future Game selection in 2006.

9. Freddy Sandoval 3B (Angels) - The most that can be said about him is that he is still on the Angels 40 man roster. If the Angels had been active on the free agent front he would probably have been one of the first players removed from the roster. He did post solid numbers at AAA Salt Lake, hitting .335 with 15 homeruns, but most hitters should post inflated numbers with the altitude there. This led to his major league debut, a September cup of coffee where he hit .167 in six games and six at bats. He was a 2007 Future Games selection.

10. Walter Silva RHP (Padres) - He’s 32 years old, which normally isn’t the definition of a prospect. But he dominated in the winter league, leading Mazatlan to the Caribbean World Series. His ERA in the winter league was 3.23 in 13 starts and in two starts at the Caribbean World Series he finished at 2.25. His fastball sits in the high 80s and low 90s and he’s got a good cutter. Righthanders in the Caribbean World Series could only manage to hit him at a .105 pace. He made the Mexican League all star team in 2006 and 2008. Pitching in Padres stadium with their lack of depth in the rotation makes him a real sleeper to make an impact on the major league club.
Some more in-depth analysis from the original post. Somehow, this seems like a weak group of prospects. I would have thought their would have been some more upside to prospects from Mexico.

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