Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics Baseball Team Preview: Mexico
Here is a rundown of Mexico's strengths, weaknesses and overall outlook for the Tokyo Games.
WBSC World Rank: 5
How It Qualified: Finished third at WBSC Premier12 in 2019
Previous Olympics Appearances: None
Manager: Benji Gil
Gil, 48, was a first-round pick of the Rangers in 1991 and played parts of eight seasons in the major leagues as a utility infielder, winning a World Series with the Angels in 2002. A Tijuana native, he played seven seasons in the Mexican League following his MLB career. He is currently the manager for the expansion Mariachis de Guadalajara in the Mexican League and was named Mexico’s national team manager in June.
Mexico is making its first appearance in baseball in the Olympics … Peña (2009 Yankees), Salas (2011 Cardinals) and RHP Hector Velazquez (2018 Red Sox) have all been part of World Series-winning teams and are trying to pull off the rare feat of winning a World Series ring and an Olympic medal … Gil played for Team USA manager Mike Scioscia on the Angels 2002 World Series team.
Mexico has one of the most veteran rosters in the Olympics and brings a lot of MLB and international experience. Gonzalez, Laird, Perez, Salas, OF Sebastian Elizalde and OF Efren Navarro all played for Mexico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Salas, Navarro, OF Jonathan Jones, C Ali Solis and RHP Manny Barreda all played in the WBSC Premier12 in 2019 and helped Mexico clinch an Olympic berth by beating Team USA in the bronze medal game.
Mexico’s roster is on the older side, with many players long past the primes of their playing careers. Only five of the 12 pitchers on the staff—Salas, Perez, Velazquez, LHP Manny Banuelos and RHP Cesar Vargas—have any MLB experience.
Mexico is not expected to finish on the medal stand, but its veteran savvy may allow it to exceed expectations.