He’s not a prominent name in the Yankees minor league system, but first baseman Jorge Vazquez has been an offensive force in Mexico and yesterday he was named the MVP of the Caribbean Series — a six-game round-robin between Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Vazquez had two home runs and six RBI as the clean-up hitter for Mexico, which won the series with a 4-2 record. The team’s name? The Yaquis.
As for Vazquez’s place with the Yankees, it’s hard to know what to expect from him. He’s about to turn 29, so he’s not young, but he’s not in mid-30s either. He spent the past two years in the Yankees system and more than held his own (.302/.337/.544 between Double-A and Triple-A). In 76 games for Scranton last season, Vazquez hit .270 with 18 homers, but he also struck out 95 times. He’s primarily a first baseman with some experience at third, but I’m not sure anyone is sold on his defense.
Before the Yankees signed him, Vazquez spent 10 years in the Mexican League and absolutely crushed the ball (.321/.370/593 career slash line). In 2005 alone, he hit 33 home runs in just 71 games.
Vazquez got a late invitation to spring training last year, and I have to think he’ll be invited again this year. He’ll probably have to outplay Eric Chavez, Ron Belliard and Brandon Laird to get any sort of crack at a reserve corner infielder job, but if he makes an impression in camp — and continues to hit in the minors — he could put himself in the mix. The Yankees did, after all, move Alfredo Aceves very aggressively after he signed out of the Mexican League and proved himself against an increased level of competition.
Speaking of Mexico’s championship in the Caribbean series…
• Mexico’s closer was Luis Ayala, who saves two of the four wins and today agreed to a minor league deal with the Yankees.
• Their center fielder was Justin Christian, the former Yankees outfielder who signed a minor league deal with the Giants.
Associated Press photo of Vazquez playing first base