Jose Mesa Jr: I hope To Pitch on a Major League Mound

by Antonio Puesán

For the Dominican Jose Ramon Mesa Jr., 2017 is a year of great challenges, as the prospect of the New York Yankees has in mind that this year will be important in his aspirations of reaching the major
leagues. Mesa Jr. is the son of former major leaguer Jose Mesa, who pitched for 19 years, while saving 321 games with eight organizations. Mesa Jr. knows that he has a great mentor who has taught him what he has to do to achieve his great dream of being a big leaguer.

Mesa Jr, a product of the 2012 draft selected in the 24th round by the Yankees is currently one of the best arms of the team’s system and has the mentality and maturity necessary to be a major pitcher coming from the bullpen.

He has in his arsenal four pitches that can dominate in any situation. Mesa’s maturity came early when in 2012 he did not play in the Gulf Coast League (Rookie Level) after undergoing Tommy John surgery and not allowing him to make his professional debut until the 2014 season. By then at age 20 he was 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA in nine games. In 2015 he returned to the rookie league and was promoted on July 11 to the short season class A in the NY-Penn League becoming one of the best relievers of his team compiling a 3-0 record in 10 games with the Staten Island Yankees. He had a short visit in Staten Island and received a call on August 15th and was promoted to the Charleston River Dogs in the South Atlantic League where he had a 2.97 ERA in 14 games.

In 2016, after starting the season with the Tampa Yankees in the Advanced Class A level, Mesa Jr. was placed on the inactive list because of problems in his throwing arm.

After spending the rest of the 2016 season receiving treatment and therapy in Miami and completing rehab with his father in Santo Domingo, Mesa Jr. started 2017 on fire showcasing a powerful arm out of the bullpen, striking out 10 batters in three relief appearances before awarding a single run to score.

“My relationship with my father is what any child would want; having a father who played in the Major Leagues is a blessing. Whenever I show him something that happened to me in the game, he understands every detail and he instantly tells me what I did wrong,” says the young pitcher.

The Licey Tigers of the Dominican winter baseball league selected Mesa Jr. with the 18th pick in the 2016 draft, the same team that his father played with for eight seasons.

“I trust in God that everything will work out well. I’ve worked hard in the off season so my arm responds well and I can keep climbing through the system so one day I can reach the majors,” said Mesa Jr. as he arrived from the gym in Tampa to be ready for the game.

This season is very clear for Mesa Jr. as he is ready to receive the call from the New York Yankees and throw in a Major League mound.

Team Puerto Rico created a Movement even in a Loss

by David Conde

Every four years dating back to 2006, the World Baseball Classic takes center stage and nations come together with their best players showcasing their skills for the whole world to witness.  Major League Baseball started this tournament to give countries the opportunity to show that baseball is not just America’s National Pastime.

Many countries have participated and have advanced through the rounds, but three have so far reached the ultimate goal of being crowned champions, Japan (2006, 2009), Dominican Republic (2013) and United States (2017).

In 2013, Team Puerto Rico faced off against an unbeaten Dominican Republic team in the final of the World Baseball Classic. The classic did not end as Puerto Rico expected as they lost 3-0 to a DR team that ran the table finishing 8-0 in the Classic.

Fast forward four years and Puerto Rico entered the 2017 Classic on a mission with something to prove and it started from the first round as they opened the tournament in Charros de Jalisco along with host country Mexico, Venezuela and Italy.

In their first game against Venezuela, Team Puerto Rico sent a message to the rest of the field that this year would be different as they defeated the South American country 11-0 in just seven innings. On the next night they faced Mexico and scored four runs in the top of the ninth to pull away to a 9-4 victory. In game three, Puerto Rico found themselves down 2-0 in the first, but scored nine runs in five innings and once again won an impressive game 9-4, showcasing their talented bats and solid pitching to win their opening pool with a 3-0 record.

The second round, which moved to San Diego, California, was even tougher, as they were matched up against the defending champs, the Dominican Republic, a strong USA team and Venezuela, who also advanced from the first round of games.

In the first game, Puerto Rico shocked the Dominican Republic with an impressive 3-1 victory. Then they survived a late rally from Team USA to win 6-5, punching their ticket to the Semi-Finals. In their final game in Round 2, they took care of Venezuela again with a 13-2 pounding, securing a perfect 6-0 record.

In the semi-finals, they were faced with the task of taking on the Netherlands and it truly proved to be a tough assignment as they found themselves down 2-0 in the first inning. But Team Puerto Rico rebounded quickly and scored three runs in two innings and one in the bottom of the 11th to earn a walk-off victory and advance to the WBC Finals.

But this time it was not meant to be for Puerto Rico as they met their match and lost to Team USA 8-0 and once again came up a game short of the Title.

The journey through the classic was more than just a baseball game, it was a movement felt around the world and on the island of Puerto Rico.

These men united together as brothers through prayer, dyeing their hair bleach blonde and sharing a passion for a game and their nation. They made this journey fun and amazing to watch as they brought a whole nation of Boricuas young and old together, showcasing the pride and respect for its people.

The goal was great, but the end result was even better as they showed us all what a team can accomplish when they play as one, united by a love for their nation.

This amazing team included stars like Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Angel Pagan and also a few young guys that played with teams in the Upstate NY area like, T.J. Rivera and Seth Lugo with Binghamton, and Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario and Kenny Vargas with Rochester.

This Puerto Rican team showed so much class on the field and the passion brought everyone to their feet wanting more and wanting to be a part of this great movement. They showed how fun baseball can be again.

There will be four years before we can all feel this way again, but it will be something worth waiting for, as they can still boast that Puerto Rico is the best Latino baseball team in the World.

The 2021 World Baseball Classic, can’t come any sooner.

David Conde is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Legends On Deck. He is a former Senior Editor for MetsMerizedOnline, MetsMinors.net and Contributor for Hardballchat.com. He is a native of Brooklyn, NY and a lifelong Mets and baseball fan. David coaches little league baseball so he can teach his two sons how to play the game he loves. David also has a hobby of taking sports photos which can be seen here on Legends On Deck.

Legends On Deck® was created so avid baseball fans can read about the Stars of today and the Legends of tomorrow. We are proud to be partnering with CNY Latino, as we will contribute monthly baseball stories and photographs covering your favorite local baseball teams and their Latino stars from professional organizations such as the Syracuse Chiefs, Rochester Redwings, Binghamton Mets, Auburn Double Days, and the Tri – City Valley Cats.

You can find more exciting stories at www.legendsondeck.com and be sure to follow us on Twitter (@LegendsonDeck) and LIKE us on Facebook – (LegendsOnDeck).

A New Opportunity in Washington

by Antonio Puesán

The Tampa Bay Rays made a surprise move when they sent left-handed pitcher, Dominican Enny Romero to the Washington Nationals, for 21 year old prospect Jeffrey Rosa a pitcher whose last experience was in the Gulf Coast League (GCL) in the rookie circuit last season.

Romero, 26, played full-time with the Rays as a relief pitcher last season pitching in 52 games being his longest amount in his major league career.

“I had everything planned to travel (tomorrow) to report to spring training in Port Charlotte, FL, but I received the call from the team where I was informed of the change to Washington” said Romero, who has a powerful fastball that travels between 94 to 96 MHP and a great change up that opposing hitters can’t hit.

“I received the call from the organization (Nationals) and they indicated that they had time looking for a change with me and I received the praise from the management and my manager” said Enny who played in Dominican baseball with Leones Del Escogido where he had an outstanding performance in the semifinal round.

“Here I will have the chance to fulfill my dream of going to a postseason, every player dreams of that moment,” said the Dominican left-hander from the Katanga neighborhood in Los Mina, Dominican Republic.

Enny and his new teammates will be appearing at the new spring training facilities at West Palm Beach in the state of Florida called The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches facility that they will share with the Houston Astros.

About the author — Antonio José Silva Puesán is known professionally as Antonio Puesán, a Dominican raised baseball analyst, writer, TV & Radio personality based in Miami, Florida. He is a specialized baseball analyst for “El Locker Room 1050” on Rafael Bello, a Radio Sports Talk show for ESPN Deportes Radio 1050 AM New York. Puesán is also known as a digital creative strategist in the digital marketing business specially with sports brands and events in social media.

Early on he was a Creative and Art Director experienced in creating graphic lines and brand communication, a teamwork builder and developing skills necessary to lead a creative team with strength and inspiration, while encouraged with the passion for developing brands and concepts defined. He is a professional with fresh ideas and goals for improvement in constant renovation.

He is also a former Kansas City Royals Minor League Pitcher playing from 1993 to 1995.

Legends On Deck® was created so avid baseball fans can read about the Stars of today and the Legends of tomorrow. We are proud to be partnering with CNY Latino, as we will contribute monthly baseball stories and photographs covering your favorite local baseball teams and their Latino stars from professional organizations such as the Syracuse Chiefs, Rochester Redwings, Binghamton Mets, Auburn Double Days, and the Tri – City Valley Cats.

You can find more exciting stories at www.legendsondeck.com and be sure to follow us on Twitter (@LegendsonDeck) and LIKE us on Facebook – (LegendsOnDeck).

Dominican in New York

My name is Yeixon Ruiz, and in 2009 I was signed by the New York Mets and was given a $10,000 bonus. I’m going to share a bit about my career in the minor leagues.

 In my first year playing professional ball, I played in 2010 in the Dominican Summer League, which is the lower level in the Mets minor league system. It was a great experience for me, as I was able to achieve some of my dreams of belonging to a Major League team. After putting in the time and working hard, I was able to put up reasonable numbers for a rookie, but I could not go to the United States the following year, since I still had much to learn about the basics of the game. 

In my third year, I was able to go to the United States and because of my performance in my training, I was able to make the Kingsport Mets. Knowing that I wasn’t a high player bonus signing, I wasn’t a regular player, and I had to be the one to come off the bench. But after a great performance, I became a regular in my position and I played most of the time.

The following year I returned and I was in the same league and I had a better season at the plate and I was able to open up the eyes of my bosses. Thanks to my hard work, I was invited to the Instructional league where I learned a lot. 

Read the rest of this entry »

A local… Sports note

compiled from an interview by Martha Vergara

Soccer or football is a passion in Latin American countries as it is in many other continents. For Oscar Vergara, the coach of Bishop Ludden College since 1976, a Catholic-private college in Syracuse soccer is his life. His coaching career is 42 years old. Most of these have been at Bishop Ludden but before that he was a coach at several schools since he began as an assistant at Corcoran High School. From a young age, Oscar spent all his free time playing with his friends in the paddocks or improvised courts of his native neighborhood, La Estación Villa in Medellín, Colombia.

Reminiscing with Oscar about his life as an immigrant in Syracuse where he has resided since 1971, he answered several questions:

How was your experience of emigrating to the United States?

I believe that for me the change of culture, language, and customs was very difficult. I was young and I came to a school where everything was different and there was not even a soccer team. I was eager for summer to come so I could find a team in the city where I could do with the ball what I could not do in any other way. The language limitation and the experience of being in a new world after having recently lost my mother in a traffic accident where a drunk driver killed her and left my brother badly injured were a difficult burden to bear. I saw soccer as my salvation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Jose Fernandez

The baseball world woke up absolutely stunned on September 25, 2016 and it will forever go down as one of the saddest days in baseball history. One of the games most beloved stars, Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins, passed away early Sunday morning in a boating accident. Fernandez, 24, and two other men were found dead after their boat was discovered by Coast Guard personnel out on patrol upside down on the north end of a rocky jetty in the Miami Harbor, at roughly 3:15 a.m.

The Marlins released this statement after the tragic loss of their ace, “The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernandez. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.” 

Commissioner Rob Manfred would release his statement on the tragedy shortly after. “All of baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernandez. He was one of our game’s great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The Three Caballeros

The Three Caballeros is how a sector of the press and the fandom have dubbed the attacking trident made up by Argentinean Leo Messi, Brazilian Neymar and Uruguayan Luis Suarez, key players for the Catalan Futbol Club Barcelona, one of the world’s top soccer teams. The Three Caballeros first appeared in a competitive soccer game in October 2014, and readily emerged as a well-oiled goal-scoring machine: 122 in the 2014-15 season; 131 in the 2015-16 season. In each case, they broke the record for most goals attained by an offensive trio in the Spanish soccer statistical tables. The latter season included historical blowouts such as 4-0 against Real Madrid, 6-0 against Sporting de Gijon, 7-0 against Valencia and 8-0 against Deportivo La Coruña.

But before the Argentinean-Brazilian-Uruguayan The Three Caballeros, there was The Three Caballeros Version 1.0: American Donald Duck; Brazilian Jose Carioca, a parrot, and; Mexican Panchito Pistoles, a cock, all of whom star in the animated Walt Disney movie of the same name, whose main theme is Donald opening three  birthday presents from his friends: a film projector, a book and a piñata.

Besides the original trio of caballeros, three other characters in the picture are the Brazilian Aracuan, a tropical bird known as the speckled chachalaca; and the Argentineans Pablo, a penguin, and Burrito, a donkey.

Read the rest of this entry »