October 18, 2020

While the other Caribbean Leagues (you know, the ones with current Indians prospects in them) have yet to start, the Mexican Pacific League opened its 2020-21 season on Thursday. There is a quartet of players on LMP Opening day rosters who have spent some time in the Cleveland Indians organization. Here’s how their opening weekends went:

Jose Guadalupe Chavez (Tomateros de Culiacan, IF): 3 G, 10 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 1 SB – Chavez, who played in the system in 2005 and 2006 (Mostly in short-season ball wit hthe Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Burlington Indians, but also 12 games with the Lake County Captains and one with the Buffalo Bisons in ’06), had been off to a rough 1-for-7 tart in his first two games of the Liga Pacifica campaign, but significantly improved his stat line by going for 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and his first run scored of the season (the game-winning run in an eleven-inning marathon after walking to lead off the bottom of the frame) last night.

Michael Choice (Aguilas de Mexicali, OF): 3 G, 11 AB, 3 R, 4 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – The former major leaguer and Texas Rangers phenom’s season has been the reverse of Chavez’s. He was en fuego in his first two contests of the season before “cooling off” to a “mere” 1-for-4 with a double last night. Even so, he is still slashing .364/.417/1.000. In case you don’t remember, Michael played for the Columbus Clippers as a veteran minor leaguer in 2015 and ’16.

Roman Pena (Venados de Mazatlan, RP): 1 G, 0 IP, 1 H, 2 R (both earned), 1 BB – regardless of whether you call him Roman Pena, Roman Pena Zonta, Roman Penazonta*, or late for dinner, the one thing that is inarguable is that the former Indians minor league outfielder turned Mexican League relief pitcher is not off to a good start to this 2019-20 LMP campaign. Pena gave up a hit and a walk (both runners eventually scored) and failed to get an out before being pulled in the seventh inning on Friday night. This may or may not be injury-related as I am seeing some sources listing him as being on a reserve list while others have him as active.

*I could probably write an entire column on how full names work in Latin America and how they get whittled down to an English-style First Name/Last Name format.

Jeff Johnson (Sultanes de Monterrey, RP): no outings yet – Johnson, who was with the Tribe org from 2012 to 2017 and is probably best remembered by most IBI readers for his 27 saves as the Akron RubberDucks’ closer in 2015, has yet to take the mound for the Sultanes’ winter side (Monterrey is the one team to play in both the Liga Pacifica and the summertime Mexican League). Jeff had been pitching in Mexico (in both leagues) since leaving the Indians system, but made his return to stateside ball this past summer with the Sugar Land Skeeters in their hastily assembled Constellation Energy League (2.40 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 19:11 K:BB, and three saves in 15 innings in as many relief outings).

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