Mexico - 2017 WBC Review

Overview - Mexico has its own professional league. The longer league plays in the summer but they also have a winter league that competes in February in the Series del Caribe with four other countries. Mexico has been one of the better countries in the tournament winning three of the last four Series del Caribes until last year when Puerto Rico won.

Major league teams must pay Mexican teams for the right to use players from Mexico. Mexican teams draft locals young so the opportunities do not exist for major league teams to scour Mexico for young talent. This payment of players is part of an informal agreement that was put in place when a Mexican team owner bought a number of major league players who were in contract disputes. Fearing a rise in salary the major leagues agreed not to raid Mexican League teams for players and the Mexican League in turn would not raid the major league teams for players. Most of the bonus paid to a Mexican League team for a player like Julio Urias goes to the team. Very little of that bonus money is ever pocketed by the player.

When the baseball world cup was being played Mexico did not field a lot of competitive teams. Most of their players were committed to playing in their summer leagues so the rosters have always been watered down. The last medals Mexico won was in 1961 and 1965 when they won silver medals. They also won silver medals in 1943 and 1944 and a bronze in 1941.

Mexico also had difficulty overcoming the United States and Cuba in the Pan Am games, which was a vehicle for teams to qualify for the Olympics. They won bronze medals in 1951, 1963, 2003 and 2007 but they have never been able to finish higher than third. While they have never been to an Olympic event they have been able to upset the United States in an America’s Cup game to eliminate them from appearing in the 2004 Olympics, four years after the United States won gold in the 2000 Olympics.

Mexico has competed in all three World Baseball Classics. In 2006 they were able to advance to the second round after finishing in a three way tie for first with the United States and Canada at 2-1. The United States and Mexico advanced based on the tie breaking formulae in place leaving Canadian fans fuming. They did not advance past the second round, winning only one game, but that game brought them satisfaction. The 2-1 win over the United States was the second time in two years they had eliminated the United States from a major event. With the loss to Mexico the United States did not advance to the final four.

In the 2009 WBC Mexico was able to advance to the second round. After being spanked by Australia 17-7 in the opening game they played them again in a losers bracket game with the loser going home. This time Mexico did the spanking with a 16-1 win. In the final game against Cuba they got spanked again 16-4. The lack of pitching did not bode well for them in the second round and they lost both games, first to South Korea (8-2) and then to Cuba (7-4).

In the most recent 2013 WBC Mexico was able to beat the United States again, but they lost to Canada and Italy to fail to advance for the first time in the three WBCs. The bright spot was the victory over the United States but because of their last place finish in the pool they had to qualify for the 2017 WBC. They did that with wins over Czech Republic and Nicaragua, getting an opportunity to host a tournament.

Because Mexico was ranked as one of the top 12 teams in baseball they qualified for the Premier 12 in 2015. A fourth place finish in their pool allowed them to advance to a single elimination playoff round. They were able to beat Canada 4-3 in the first game but this time the United States got revenge by eliminating Mexico 6-1.

Mexico hopes to advance to the second round in this WBC tournament, but the pool they are in will not make it easy.

Current ranking - Mexico is currently ranked sixth in the World Baseball Rankings, their highest ranking ever. There is a lot at stake for them to advance to the second round. They are the highest ranked team in their pool with Venezuela just below them at seventh and Italy at number 11. Puerto Rico, which finished second in this tournament in 2013 is ranked 12th but they may have a better roster than they had in 2013.

Roster

Pitchers - Jorge de la Rosa, Yovani Gallardo, Giovanny Gallegos, Jaime Garcia, Miguel Gonzalez, Luis Mendoza (DPP), Vidal Nuno, Roberto Osuna (DPP), Oliver Perez, Sergio Romo, Fernando Salas, Jake Sanchez, Joakim Soria, Carlos Torres

Designated Pitchers Pool - Miguel Aguilar, Andres Avila, Marco Estrada, Carlos Fisher, Rafael Martin, Mario Meza, Ivan Salas, Julio Urias

Catchers - Xorge Carrillo, Sebastian Valle

Infielders - Japhet Amador, Daniel Castro, Luis Alfonso Cruz, Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon Laird, Esteban Quiroz, Jose Manuel Rodriguez

Outfielders - Jose Aguilar, Khris Davis, Efren Navarro, Chris Roberson, Alex Verdugo

Strengths - The bullpen should be strong with Roberto Osuna, Sergio Romo, Oliver Perez and Joakim Soria all capable of shutting down opponents after the sixth inning. The starting pitching may not be as strong in the first round as the second with Yovani Gallardo, Jaime Garcia and Jorge de La Rosa all solid starters. If they can get past the first round Julio Urias and Marco Estrada can be added to the rotation from the designated pitchers pool. If Adrian Gonzalez is healthy the Mexican team is set at first base with he and Japhet Amador providing the power. Amador failed in his major league opportunity and is now playing in Japan but his bat can carry the ball a long way. Brandon Laird can provide additional pop at third base. He is one of the top power hitters in Japan and was a top prospect with the Yankees before heading to Japan.

Weakness - They have no major leaguer behind the plate. Sebastian Valle was once a top prospect but now he is a journeyman. The outfield has been hit by the loss of Khris Davis. If he is unable to play this outfield becomes weak. Alex Verdugo is a top 100 prospect and Chris Roberson is a star in the Mexican league, but neither are a strength. Up the middle is where teams win games and Mexico is weak there. Shortstop, second base, centerfield and catching all lack any player with major league quality, though Daniel Castro is a solid utility player.

Prospects to Watch - Alex Verdugo is a top 100 prospect on most lists. He is a Dodger outfielder who carries all five tools, though none of them at a high level. He is the only prospect myworld would be interested in.

Expected Finish - Mexico will battle but will fall short advancing to the second round if they can’t upset either Venezuela or Puerto Rico. Myworld just likes the roster of Venezuela and Puerto Rico better. If Julio Urias was in the starting rotation in the first round Mexico would have a better shot at pulling an upset.

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