The level of competition in the Mexican League (ML) is considered on par with both stateside Triple-A leagues, and considering the amount of former MLB players found on the rosters, chief among them Luis Terrero, Victor Diaz, Jose Castillo, and Bobby Livingston, seems about right.
But the problem with the Mexican League and its statistics is simple: They’re inflated. The league, as a whole, hit .299/.374/.454 last season, numbers nearly identical to Dustin Pedroia’s career marks (.305/.373/.463). Throw in the fact that the average age for hitters was nearly 30-years-old – and one year older than that of the average MLB batter – and it goes without saying that many of stats compiled in the Mexican League should be taken lightly; except, of course, when a 21-year-old performs nearly 30-percent above the league average.
Leonardo Heras is a bit of an unknown commodity: the 5-foot-8, 155 pound, lefty-swinging, second baseman/outfielder hit .342/.399/.536 last season, and according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, he was 28-percent better than the league average. And remember: this was against pitchers who were eight years his senior.
Heras’ game, especially in the power department, took noticeable steps forward this season. After hitting seven homeruns his previous four seasons in the Mexican League (1287 PA), he smashed 18 in 497 plate appearances this year, nearly doubling his ISO (isolated power) from the previous season, to .194.
He also boasts solid peripheral skills: he’s a high contact hitter (9.7% strikeout-rate since 2010; five points below the ML league average) who’s shown a solid ability to draw some walks (8.3% walk-rate during the same time, slightly below the ML average). His base running, according to the raw data, has also improved. His Speed Score, per fangraphs.com, jumped 1.6 points this season, to 7.8, as his stolen base efficiency improved (69% in 2010 to 74% last season). Heras has also been a bit of a vagabond defensively, making 248 appearances in center field, 51 in left, six in right, 77 at second base, and even appearing at shortstop for one game.
It appears that he has yet to sign any type of contract with a recognized MLB team – perhaps due to his diminutive size – but many teams could do a lot worse than offer Leonardo Heras a contract. Admittedly, he would probably have to start in A-ball, maybe High-A, but this is a type of low-risk/high reward gamble many cash-strapped teams should take. At the very least, given his defensive background, Heras profiles as a decent big league utility player.
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