Many people tend to forget – or perhaps don’t know – that, yes, the Mexican League is a sanctioned Triple-A league. None of the teams, however, are affiliated with any Major League ball club. In that way it’s similar to some of the independent leagues scattered stateside.
So with very little discussion available about the Mexican League, I’m going to start a periodic series looking at the league, or more specifically, some of its interesting players/prospects. Last week, on my own site, www.releasepoints.com, I talked about perhaps the best prospect in the Mexican League, a second baseman/center fielder named Leonardo Heras, and that article can be found here.
For the inaugural post at S2S, I’m going to analyze Alan Guerrero, perhaps the top pitching prospect in the Mexican League.
The Mexican League, while it is a recognized Triple-A league, tends to lack the overall level of competition found in both stateside AAA leagues, the Pacific Coast League and International League, and coupled with the average age, which is nearly 30-years-old, this can skew some of the statistics.
For example: according to Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), four of the top six hitters in the minors last season resided in the Mexican League, all of whom were over the age of 31. The other two leading hitters – Oscar Hernandez and Christopher Austin – spent at least half a season in rookie ball. The Mexican League averaged 5.68 runs per game, the most for any sanctioned level above rookie ball; the league average hitting line was .299/.374/.454. Clearly, this is an offensive league. And as a result, many of the pitching numbers look bloated so it’s best to look at peripherals, not counting stats (which is usually the case anyway).
Alan Guerrero, at the age of 23, posted the third highest strikeout rate among pitchers with 50+ innings last season, at 9.30 K/9, a slight improvement from the 9.09 K/9 he posted in 2010. And this was in a league where the average last season was 5.9 K/9, the second lowest total in the 29 leagues available on baseball-reference.com. His control, however, last season declined, as he walk nearly four batters per nine innings, a 1.5 point decline from the season before.
A former starting pitcher early in his career, Guerrero now works exclusively out of the pen and his 20 saves ranked second in the league. Very little information is known about his arsenal, but his strikeout rate has improved four consecutive seasons, and his FIPs (Fielding Independent Pitching) the last two seasons have been 3.21 and 3.35, respectively. And remember: Guerrero is still five years younger than the league average and posts solid strikeout numbers in an extreme offensive environment.
At the very worst, Guerrero could provide upper level pitching depth, maybe Triple-A. And depending on his actual arsenal, he may even be a viable big league middle reliever.