Hola! Today is Cinco de Mayo, a day commemorating the Battle of Puebla against French troops. It tends to be celebrated more heavily in the United States as a celebration of Mexican culture. For us, it can be an opportunity to celebrate the contributions made in baseball by Mexican players.
There have been a total of 114 men born in Mexico who have played at least a game in the Major Leagues. Of those, eight have spent some time with the Milwaukee Brewers. Some you'll know. Some you may have forgot. Some you may never have heard of.
Aceves has an eight-year MLB career, though he spent just one in Milwaukee. Back in 2000, he made 62 appearances for the Brewers, posting a 3.81 ERA and a 51:31 K:BB over nearly 83 innings. He came over from the Cardinals as the main return in exchange for Fernando Vina,
Only Steve Woodard pitched more innings as a non-full-time starter than Aceves, though Woodard did make 11 starts. Aceves worked alongside Curtis Leskanic and David Weathers as primary set-up men for Bob Wickman. The Brewers traded him after his lone season with the team as part of a package for Mike DeJean, Mark Leiter and Elvis Pena.
Carrillo played a whopping three games as a Brewer, never receiving a plate appearance. He was a defensive replacement in left field each time he saw action in 1991, though he manage to finally swing the bat as a member of the Marlins a few years later.
Cruz is another player who did not see much time in the Majors as a member of the Brewers. After being selected off Waivers from the Pirates, he played in seven games for Milwaukee in 2010. Over 17 plate appearances, he picked up four hits, an RBI and scored a pair of runs. He then spent a short time in the Brewers' minor league system before being released in spring 2011. He spent 2012 and 2013 playing for the Dodgers and Yankees.
Jorge De La Rosa
As a part of the return in the celebrated Richie Sexson trade to the Diamondbacks, De La Rosa had been considered a pretty good pitching prospect at the time. (De La Rosa had also been a key part of an earlier trade that saw him move from Boston to Arizona as part of a deal for Curt Schilling).
Unfortunately, the lefty struggled his first few years in the majors with Milwaukee. He made five starts in 2004 for the team but pitched poorly en route to a 6.35 ERA. He spent 2005 in the bullpen, appearing 38 times with a 2.03 WHIP. He posted big strikeout numbers, but an 8.2 BB/9 in 2005 was, well, not good. His 2005 was not much better as the Brewers once again tried him as a starter.
In the end, Milwaukee ended up trading him to the Royals for Tony Graffanino. De La Rosa was then flipped to the Rockies to complete an earlier trade and developed into a real nice starting pitcher for Colorado. He toned down the walks and had some decent seasons, parlaying his success into a four-year, $42 million deal with the Rockies.
Dessens was the return for the Brewers when they traded outfielder Brady Clark to the Dodgers prior to 2007. He made it to August with the team before being release. While on the roster, he made 12 appearances with a 6.60 ERA. It's kind of weird, I remember Dessens, and I thought I remembered him pitching more in long relief and maybe even making a start or two. But he pitched just 15 innings as part of Milwaukee.
He ended up having a couple real good seasons with the Mets in the twilight of his career, but never amounted to anything with the Brewers.
Four appearances out of the bullpen, five innings pitched, three earned runs, six hits and five walks, six strikeouts. Congratulations, you now know the entire major league history of Narciso Elvira, all of which was spent with the Brewers in 1990!
Depending on your opinion, Marco Estrada may already be the best trash-heap pickup of Doug Melvin's career as general manager of the Brewers. If he's not already, he certainly has the potential to be: Estrada has solidified himself as a member of Milwaukee's stating rotation and has a 3.13 ERA through his first six starts of the 2014 season.
Estrada is in his fifth year as a member of the Brewers and has proven he can strike out a number of batters while limiting his walks. If it weren't for those blasted home runs, he may very well be the ace of this team. And all the Brewers needed to do was take him off of waivers from the Nationals back in 2010.
Since 2012, when he became more-or-less a full-time starter for the Brewers, he has a 3.68 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with an 8.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. His 1.3 HR/9 hurts him, but so far so good in 2014 for Estrada.
Gallardo is likely the best pitcher drafted by the Brewers since Ben Sheets in 1999. A second-round selection in 2004, it's hard to believe Gallardo is still just 28 years old. He has been the de facto ace of the Brewers for some time and now holds the franchise record for most opening day starts in a row.
However, Gallardo suffered through a career-worst season in 2013 with a 4.18 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. His velocity and strikeout numbers both saw a big decline and caused a lot of concern that we might never see the same Gallardo again. It was the complete opposite of what people hoped for as he entered his prime. While Gallardo had been solid-to-good his whole career, he never took that jump forward into being a top-flight pitcher.
Despite his step back in 2013, Gallardo has come back strong this year with perhaps the best start to a season of his career. In seven starts, he has a 2.47 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, though his strikeout numbers (5.4 K/9) are far and away the worst he has ever had. If this is the new Gallardo and this is the success he sees, I'm all for it. But it's a little concerning to see such a stark change so quickly.
Higuera has gone down in history as one of the best pitchers the Brewers have ever had, though his career was fairly brief. He spent nine years in the majors, all of which were with Milwaukee. He was first called up as a 27-year-old in 1985 and made 30 starts and two relief appearances with a 3.90 ERA, earning second place in Rookie of the Year voting.
That solidified his spot with the team and, in 1986, he earned his only All Star nod while finishing second to Roger Clemens in Cy Young voting. That year he had a 2.79 ERA with 207 strikeouts. He would strike out 240 batters in his third season while pitching over 260 innings, but it was 1988 that proved to be the best campaign of his career. Over 31 starts, he had a sterling 2.45 ERA and league-leading 0.999 WHIP.
Still, he did not receive a vote in the Cy Young race that year as Frank Viola ran away with it. Higuera would have a couple more nice years, but could never replicate that success. A torn rotator cuff kept him out for all of the 1992 season. After 20 more poor starts in 1993-1994, Higuera called it quits after failing to earn a roster spot with the Padres in 1995.
Higuera is a part of the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.