February 18, 2018

Those Who Dominated the Mexican League in Offense Now Back in Indy Leagues for Late-Season Run

August 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It is not uncommon early in an Independent Baseball season to see a number of quality players opt to play in Mexico or an Asian league where they can make more money.  But the Mexican League ends early so some of those who have been prominent do an about face and come back to the United States or Canada to extend their season.

I cannot say for certainty that 2010 is unusual, but among those who have returned from Mexico this year are the Triple-A league’s top three hitters, an all-star who drove in 96 runs and a 12-game winner.

First baseman Willis Otanez, who won the batting title with a .393 average, had a .470 on-base percentage and hit a dozen home runs to boost his career total between the major and minor leagues to 326, has signed with Long Island, NY, and after missing a few days to handle a personal matter is expected to play this weekend as the Ducks continue an uphill battle to make the Atlantic League playoffs.

Sandy Madera, who used to show his hitting muscle in the Can-Am League (New Jersey Jackals) and has topped out so far at the Triple-A  level, ranked second in the Mexican League batting race at a meager .383.  He has joined Newark, which is all but out of any playoff race.

The third best hitter, Carlos Rivera, and another strong batsman, Raul Gonzalez, are now making an impact in the American Association race, playing for Wichita, KS. Rivera hit .373 in Mexico with 16 homers and 82 RBI while Gonzalez was .328-9-42, but only appeared in 68 games.

Still another prominent slugger is Victor Diaz, who has joined Rockford, IL as the RiverHawks try to make the playoffs in their first year in the Northern League. He was an all-star in Mexico where he was the runaway winner of the home run title with 29 and set the pace with 96 runs batted in.

It should make Independent leaders feel good about the quality of play in the USA because only Rivera is hitting .300 since returning from Mexico.

On the mound, former major league right-hander Esteban Yan has re-joined Bridgeport after a 12-3 season south of the border.  Only one pitcher had more victories.

Inter-League Play Not Ruled Out

Any news developments on the rumors circulating that the American Association, Northern League and Frontier League—or some combination of the three—are working on a form of inter-league play or other joint efforts certainly will not come until ownership meetings this fall, but American Association Commissioner Miles Wolff did not totally discount some possibilities when I reached him in Quebec, where he owns the Can-Am League’s Capitales, Thursday afternoon.

“Fortunately, we’re talking to the Northern League, there is more communication”, he said, alluding to the chill in the immediate years after four Northern League teams jumped to the Association.  And, he said Frontier League Commissioner Bill Lee does not seem concerned about an imbalance for inter-league play even though his league caters to younger players than the Northern and American  Association.

The details would be “daunting”, Wolff admitted, because the needs of all 30 teams in the three leagues have to be considered, and they cover about two-thirds of the United States plus Canada.

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Triple Crown Still Possible for KC’s Jake Blackwood

Second baseman Jake Blackwood still has great upside in his quest to win the triple crown in the Northern League. The former Florida Marlins prospect, who doesn’t turn 25 until next month, has sizeable leads in both home runs (29) and runs batted in (73) for playoff-bound Kansas City, KS, and has hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games to stay within five points of Winnipeg’s Kevin West, .352-.347, for the batting championship.

Blackwood has come on strong in 2010 since he could only show a .242 average for his first four professional seasons and a single-season high of 10 round-trippers.

(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blogs, www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com and www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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