Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

The future of the Mariners is Latino

There are some teams positioning themselves
to be solid contenders in the future and some
like the Seattle Mariners might do it with a
lot of young Latino players.

By Amaury Pi-GonzalezIf all goes accoding to plan the Seattle Mariners
will have the #1 pitcher prospect in the country
ready for the 2006 baseball season.
Felix Hernandez, from Venezuela is his name he
is currently at triple-A with the Tacoma Rainiers.
He features a fast ball in the high 90s a great slider
and keeps the ball low. Felix is one of those guys
that is just around 20 years of age with a great
future if he develops the way most of the baseball
people think he could.

Already playing for the Mariners (just brought up) is Jose Lopez, Jose played in September
of 2004 mostly at third base. He is playing
second base and there is a better that 90% chance
that he -Jose Lopez- would be the starting second
baseman for the Seattle Mariners come the 2006
season. Lopez, who in his first interview with yours
truly back in Tacoma during a day off for the
Mariners in 2004 told me he first played
Soccer in his native Venezuela has a great
future today in baseball. With soft hands and very
good movement fielding to both sides he will
get stronger and better. A good hitter
that makes good contact and has some power.

Then there is Miguel Olivo, who came to Seattle
mid season 2004 from the Chicago White Sox
with Jeremy Reed and Mike Morse for pitcher
Freddy Garcia. Olivo was sent down to Tacoma,
he was hitting below the Mendoza Line (around
.170) and he needed to get his head straight.
Olivo still a young catcher (24) that has a lot
of potential, he is from the Dominican Republic.
(By the way that deal, Garcia for Olivo,
Reed and Morse)already is proving to be the
best yet by Mariners General Manager Bill
Bavasi. Just looking the way that Reed has
been playing center field and Mike Morse
at short.

Then there is 20 year old Rene Rivera,also
brought up recently from the minor leagues.
The catcher, born in Bayamon, Puerto
Rico has shown lots of talent for his age in the
most difficult position to play. I speak often with
Rene, his mentor is Ivan(Pudge)Rodriguez, the
great Puertoricn catcher future Hall of Famer
presently playing for the Detroit Tigers.
Rivera has a small body frame but is very
strong and will get stronger, which is necessary
for his position. On Father’s Day he called his
father in Miami, he was happy to hear his
son was playing and starting again.

Then there is Adrian Beltre, the thirdbaseman
that had a rough start in his new league. Coming
from the Los Angeles Dodgers and leading the
Majors last season in homers with 48 he still
adjusting to the American League pitching.
Beltre also from the Dominican Republic is
a quiet but hard working ballplayer. Watching
this team this year I can say that Beltre
(who hasn’t started hitting yet) has made all
the plays at third base, he is as good as third
baseman as you would find.

Julio Mateo is one of the most effective relievers
in the Mariners bullpen with a great arm and
excellent slider he is having another fine season
with a very good earned run average. The
Dominican has a great attitude for the game
and never misses a moment to talk baseball.

Waiting in the wings (playing with Tacoma in
Triple A) you find Yuniesky Betancourt the
very young Cuban-born shortstop who’s
future might depend if Mike Morse can continue
to impress and take over the shortstop
position for the Mariners. Pokey Reese still
rehabing from his injury but Morse is doing
so well at shortstop that most people in
Seattle have forgotten than the Mariners
signed Pokey for the 2005 season.
During Spring Training in Peoria I sat with
Yuniesky, we talked about Cuba, baseball
and life in general. He could be ready for
the Big Show very soon.

There is nothing new about a bunch of Latino
players in a Major League team. After all over
30 percent of all players today are from
Latin America, however, Seattle is starting
to develop a Latin falvor. There are 5 radio
stations in this area broadcasting in Spanish,
the Mariners are on their third season of
broadcasting all their home games in
Spanish language, thanks to KXLY Radio
Group out of Spokane, Washington and
the vision of Mr. Roger Nelson who believes
the Hispanic market in the State of Washington
is going to keep growing at the fastest
rate of any other minority. The Seattle
Mariners organization would be wise to
recognize the Latino power surge in this
country and in the State of Washington
where the Latino population has more than
doubled since 1990.

We know that the Japanese influence is also
great in baseball and teams like the Mariners
with corporate ties to Japanese interests are
one of the leading teams in that market.
The greatest Japanese player to ever play
in Major League Baseball (when all is said
and done) could be #51 Ichiro Susuki a
great athlete and a quiet but productive
player. In baseball you must produce
to be an asset. Since the retiring of Edgar
Martinez, Ichiro has become the most
popular player in Seattle.

Puertorican Edgar Martinez (arguable the
best DH in history) Commissioner Bud Selig
last year here at Safeco Field named that
starting in 2005 the DH Award to the best
DH in the American League each year
will be called “The Edgar Martinez DH
Award”. Edgar is as popular as they come,
The street in front of Safeco Field was renamed
Edgar Martinez Drive earlier this year.

The Emerald City is joining the West Coast
and the rest of the nation as far as Latino
population is concerned and in baseball they
are already part of that great growing family.

Many years ago I remember my good friend and
Hall of Fame announcer Jaime Jarrin, who has
been the Spanish Voice for the L.A Dodgers
for over 40 years told me prior to a game
at Candlestick Park in San Francisco:
“Amaury, we need to have big Mexican star
in Los Angeles”. Well, a couple of
years later Mike Brito went down to Mexico
and brought up Fernando Valenzuela, the
rest is history. It was Corito Varona who
discovered Fernando but Brito was sent
by the Dodgers to get a contract.

The City of Los Angeles has had many
Latino stars since and one of the most
recent is not a baseball player but the new
mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa
who became the first Latino to win the
office in 133 years.



1 Anonymous { 09.19.06 at 1:32 am }

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