If you haven't heard or looked at a calendar, today is Cinco de Mayo, the 151st anniversary of the Mexican army beating French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Wikipedia says " the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride," so I can think of no better time to take a quick look at the nine Mexican-born players who have appeared in games as Brewers:
Teddy Higuera, 213 games, 1985-94
Higuera's major league career was shortened by injuries, but his peak years from 1985-88 are arguably the best four-year stretch for a pitcher in franchise history. He threw 212.1 or more innings in each of those years, posting a 3.25 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, walking just 2.7 batters per nine while striking out 7.3. He's still second to Ben Sheets on the Brewer all-time strikeout list.
Yovani Gallardo, 162 games, 2007-present
Gallardo missed getting the ball on Cinco de Mayo by one day. The ace of the Brewer rotation is closing in on 1000 career innings with over nine strikeouts per nine innings, and has made at least 30 starts in each of the last four seasons.
Marco Estrada, 85 games, 2010-present
It's a long way down from Gallardo to Estrada, who will get the ball today. Estrada came out of relative obscurity to be a key part of the 2011 NL Central championship team, and has posted a 3.92 ERA over 37 starts as a Brewer.
Juan Acevedo, 62 games, 2000
From Estrada it's another steep dropoff to Acevedo, who came to the Brewers in the Fernando Vina trade and remained in Milwaukee for just one season, posting a 3.81 ERA in 62 relief appearances. After just one season he was dealt to the Rockies in the Mike DeJean trade. Today is also Acevedo's 43rd birthday.
Jorge De La Rosa, 61 games, 2004-06
Before resurrecting his career as a Rockie JDLR was a disappointing pitching prospect with the Brewers. He came to Milwaukee in the 2003 Richie Sexson trade and spent parts of three seasons with the Crew, posting a 6.23 ERA over 53 relief appearances and eight starts.
Elmer Dessens, 12 games, 2007
As a member of the Reds in 2000 Dessens became the last pitcher ever to win a game at County Stadium. The longtime journeyman returned to Milwaukee and appeared in 12 games for the Crew in 2007, posting a 6.60 ERA.
Luis Cruz, seven games, 2010
As a Brewer, Cruz might actually be best remembered for accusing Ken Macha of being a racist. He hit .235/.235/.353 as a Brewer in seven September games in 2010 before having a career year as a Dodger in 2012, posting a .297/.322/.431 line last season.
Amazingly, with seven games played Cruz is the longest-tenured Mexican position player in franchise history.
Narciso Elvira, four games, 1990
Elvira was listed as the #23 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America in 1990, but that might be the highlight of his professional career. He appeared in four games as a 22-year-old September callup in 1990 and never surfaced in the big leagues again.
Matias Carrillo, three games, 1991
Carrillo's career is more of a footnote than anything, as he was used as a defensive replacement in left field in three straight games in May of 1991 but never batted as a Brewer. He was later a September callup for the original Marlins in 1993.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to:
- 2002-04 Brewer Keith Ginter, who turns 37. We covered his birthday in this space last year.
- 2000 Brewer Juan Acevedo, as mentioned above. He turns 43.
- 1978-82 Brewer Larry Hisle, who turns 66. We covered his birthday in this space two years ago.
- 1976 Brewer Jimmy Rosario, who turns 68.
- Seattle Pilot John Donaldson, who turns 70.