Image credit: Esteban Bloch (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
The Mexican League features players young and old, foreign and domestic. It isn’t uncommon to see former big league veterans take on teenage pitchers getting their first taste of professional baseball.
The Mexican League was littered with a number of interesting pitchers in 2019, none more so than 16-year-old two-way standout Zayed Salinas, a lefthander/outfielder who ranked as the No. 77 international prospect signed in 2019. The Padres signed him for $800,000 from the Tijuana club.
Here are seven others who could soon sign with major league organizations, plus two others who have already signed contracts with major league organizations.
Irving Machuca, RHP, Campeche
Machuca is a 19-year-old righthander who has an impressive 6-foot-2 frame with good arm strength. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot while using his strong lower half during the delivery. Machuca’s fastball has some sink on it and tops out at 96 mph. His main secondary weapon is an upper-70s slider that tops out at 80 mph with tight spin and good command. Machuca’s third offering is a changeup that flashes as an average pitch but needs more refinement. He has the body and stuff to potentially mature into a solid middle relief option.
Jonas Garibay, RHP, Yucatan
Garibay is a 19-year-old righthander who has gotten work in as a starter and reliever for the Leones. The 6-foot-4 righthander has a projectable frame with good arm speed and short arm action in the back. He works from a three-quarters arm slot with a compact delivery. His fastball tops out at 92 mph with some life to it, and he spin a slider in the low 80s. The pitch has short break on it with horizontal action. His third pitch is a changeup that he throws in the low 80s with slight sinking action. With maturity, Garibay’s frame, arm action and quality slider could make him an attractive big league bullpen option.
Edgar Martinez, RHP, Laguna
Martinez worked mostly in relief in his first season in the Mexican Baseball League. The 21-year-old righthander works from a slightly higher three-quarter arm slot with a composed delivery and clean arm circle with no discernible quirks. Martinez uses a three-pitch mix with a fastball that tops out at 92 mph but sits in the 88-91 range. He matches the pitch with a curveball that sits in the lower 70s and flashes average and an upper-70s changeup with fading action. Martinez’s delivery and repertoire could make him a potential starter in the future.
Erick Valenzuela, RHP, Quintana Roo
Valenzuela is an 18-year-old who pitched in the rotation for los Tigres. The 5-foot-9 righthander has a clean, under control delivery from a three-quarter arm slot with repeatable arm action. Valenzuela shows plus arm strength and tops out at 89 mph with his fastball. He rounds out his three-pitch mix with a curveball and changeup in the lower 70s. He has the ability to throw all his pitches for strikes but his best pitch is his above-average changeup. Despite his size, Valenzuela’s control and three-pitch mix could fit in a rotation.
Daniel Flores, RHP, Monclova
Flores is a 21-year-old righthander who is every bit of his 6-foot-2, 227-pound frame. He throws from a high three-quarter arm slot with a long plunge action. He stays over the mound well, allowing his arm to get up to its natural slot. His fastball tops out at 92 mph and has good plane on it with cutting action in to lefthanded hitters. His changeup tends to tumble and has split-like action to bend out of the strike zone with deceptive arm action. His third pitch is a curveball with 12-to-6 movement with average rotation that he throws in the mid-to-upper 70s. Flores’ profile fits best as a back-end starter or a potential high-leverage reliever.
Esteban Bloch, RHP, Oaxaca
Bloch is a 20-year old righthander who receives praise for his ability to control the baseball. The 6-foot-3, 187-pounder works with an athletic three-quarter delivery with downward plane. He’s able to get on top of the baseball and has good extension. His fastball tops out at 86 mph and he throws a curveball that is a bit loopy at this point. His main out pitch is a changeup that flashes plus with good fade. The offering works well from his high arm slot, which he maximizes by working hitters north and south. While Bloch has a projectable frame, his role is likely to be in the bullpen where his fastball would play up and work effectively with his changeup.
Victor Buelna, RHP, Mexico City
While he isn’t the biggest righthander, the 5-foot-11 Buelna attacks hitters with a three-pitch mix and keeps the ball in and around the strike zone. Buelna works from a high three-quarter arm slot, topping out at 89 mph with a fastball that has cut action and stays in the zone. His best secondary offering is a slider in the low 80s that flashes above average. Buelna also throws a firm, low-80s changeup. He receives praise for his control and poise on the mound. The 20-year-old has an interesting arm and his feel to pitch could be enticing to teams.
The following two Mexican League pitchers signed with major league organizations in 2019.
Octavio Becerra, LHP, Dodgers
Signed Aug. 1, 2019
Becerra is a lefthander who pitched in relief for the Aguascalientes the last two seasons. The 18-year old has a 6-foot-3, 209-pound frame with plenty of projection. Becerra throws from a slightly higher three-quarter arm slot that is long in the back. He works with a fastball that tops out in the lower 90s. Becerra has a four-pitch mix, highlighted by a mid-70s curveball that has good depth. He also throws a slider in the 82-84 mph range that has slurve-like action and blends with his curveball. His changeup sits in the low 80s and he manages to keep it down in the strike zone. Becerra is armed with plenty of weapons that spell out a starting role down the road.
Victor Juarez, RHP, Rockies
Signed July 12, 2019
The Rockies jumped out and signed Juarez, the top Mexican prospect in the 2019-2020 class, to a deal worth nearly $500,000. Juarez signed out of the academy of the Tijuana Toros at the age of 16. Although extremely young, he receives praise for his feel to pitch. Juarez has enough arm strength to top out at 93 mph with his fastball. He also throws a changeup and spins an overhand curveball that has 12-to-6 movement.