Cinco de Mayo Special: A Look at Mexican-Born Players in Padres’ Organization
The San Diego Padres are spending Cinco De Mayo in Monterrey, Mexico, as they play a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The series runs May 4-6.
The Padres will have a Mexican native on display in Monterrey, with whom baseball fans in the United States are becoming familiar. His name is Christian Villanueva.
Villanueva is the NL Rookie of the Month for the month of April. He currently leads on major league rookies in home runs (9), hits (25), RBI (19), runs scored (15), and total bases (58). His .338/.411/.692 slash line also leads all rookies in the majors.
Originally from Guadalajara, Villanueva was signed as an international free agent by the Texas Rangers in 2008. In 2014, he was traded to the Cubs in a deal that sent Ryan Dempster to Texas.
Villanueva was non-tendered by the Cubs after the end of the 2016 season. In 2017, he signed a minor league contract with the Padres. He made his major league debut on September 18.
Villanueva is just one of a handful of talented players from Mexico. In observance of Cinco de Mayo, East Village Times brings you a list of the other Mexican-born players within the Padres’ organization.
Urias is one of two future middle infielders for the Padres, who is expected to be with the big league club real soon. In Triple-A-El Paso, he is hitting .309/.423/.432, with four doubles and four home runs.
Just 20 years old, Urias is originally from Magdalena de Kino. He was signed as an international free agent by the Padres in 2013. Urias is ranked as the Padres’ No. 3 prospect, and ranked No. 35 overall by MLB Pipeline.
In 2016, Urias won the California League’s Most Valuable Player Award, and the league batting title. Urias led the Texas League in on-base percentage (.398) in 2017, while playing for AA-San Antonio.
Urias won’t be with the Padres when they go to Monterrey, but it won’t be long before he makes his major league debut with the Padres.
The Padres signed Munoz as an international free agent in 2015. He made his professional debut with the Arizona League in 2016. He struck out 26 hitters over 19.2 innings pitched.
Munoz made appearances with both the Rookie League Tri-City Dust Devils and A-Fort Wayne in 2017, throwing 26 innings between the two leagues. The Padres sent Munoz to the Arizona Fall League in the fall of 2017. The 18-year-old was the youngest player present. He posted a 1.04 ERA with 11 strikeouts over 8.2 innings pitched.
Munoz has a fastball that registers in the high 90s, with potential to reach 100 mph. He’s projected to be a valuable bullpen asset, with closer potential.
Munoz is currently on the 7-day disabled list with an elbow injury. He is expected to return to action in late May.
Ornelas was signed by the Padres out of Tijuana in 2016. At the time he was signed, he was ranked as the No. 28 international prospect. At 17 years of age, he made his debut in the Arizona League. He hit .276/.399/.408, with 32 extra-base hits and 26 RBI. However, he had a 26 percent strikeout rate to go along with those numbers.
Ornelas is currently playing for the Tincaps at A-Fort Wayne.
Ruiz, from Tobasco, was signed as an international free agent in 2016. He appeared in the Arizona League in 2017, where he had a .208/.306./283 batting line.
Ruiz had a 35 percent strikeout rate, along with a walk rate of just 11 percent.
Aragon was signed to a minor league contract by the Padres in 2014. He spent two seasons in the Arizona League, and was promoted to Tri-City in 2017. He struggled at the plate last season, handing in a .213/.268/293 batting line.
Aragon is a 20-year-old infielder from Ciudad Obregon.
Vizcarra is one of a plethora of 19-and-under catchers in the Padres’ organization. Originally from Mexicali, Vizcarra was signed to a minor league contract in 2016.
In 2017, Vizcarra appeared in 53 games in the Dominican Summer League. He hit .225/.321/.319, while hitting 10 doubles, a triple and two home runs.
Reyes was first signed by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014. The 24-year-old, right-handed pitcher from Ciudad Victoria was signed by the Padres in 2016. Since then, Reyes has moved through the lower levels of the Padres’ farm system, and is currently with A-Lake Elsinore.
Reyes has a fastball that can reach 97 mph, and a sweeping slider that is tough for right-handed hitters. Reyes appeared in 47 games for the Storm in 2017. Used out of the bullpen, he struck out 65 batters over 61.2 innings. He was credited with five saves.
Reyes has assumed a bullpen role with A-Lake Elsinore again this season. He has 14 strikeouts over 10.1 innings.
Carrasco is an 18-year-old pitcher from Tijuana. The Padres signed Carrasco to a minor league contract in 2016. He started 13 games for the Dominican Summer League Padres in 2017. He posted a 1-4 record with a 2.64 ERA. More impressive, he walked just seven batters over 61.1 innings pitched.
Martinez was signed by the Diablos Rojos, a Mexican League team located in Mexico City, on Feb. 6, 2015. Just 10 days later, the Mexicali native was signed by the Padres.
Martinez played for the Dominican Summer League Padres in 2015, and was moved to the Arizona League in 2017. Martinez is now with A-Fort Wayne. He has given up 10 earned runs over 12.1 innings, but also has 20 strikeouts. Martinez is used in a bullpen role by the TinCaps.
A 19-year-old pitcher from Culiacan, Ochoa was signed by the Padres in 2016. He was originally assigned to the Tri-City Dust Devils, but his first minor league appearance was with the Dominican Summer League Padres in June 2017.
Ochoa appeared in six games, striking out 11 over 12 innings with a 3.00 ERA. Ochoa was moved to the Arizona League later that month. He made five starts, and had 10 appearances total. He had a 5.00 ERA over 36 innings. He allowed 28 runs (20 earned), but also had 29 strikeouts and a 1.64 WHIP.
This 17-year-old pitcher from Heroica Caborca was signed by the Padres in October 2016. He was originally assigned to the Dust Devils in January 2017, but was moved to the Dominican Summer League Padres in June that same year.
Valenzuela, who stands at 5-foot-9 and weighs 155, started nine games in the DSL last season. He recorded 30 strikeouts over 44.1 innings, with a 1.15 WHIP. He allowed 24 runs (19 earned), and had a 2-4 record with a 3.86 ERA.
Mike is the sports editor for the Fayette Advertiser, and has been with East Village Times since 2015. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report. He is an avid Padres fan who is keeping the faith and trusting the process.