Major League Baseball has appealed to a wide variety of audiences over the years including the Latinx community. The appeal of baseball is evident in the city of Los Angeles where Latinx make up a large portion of the population. As an organization where 27% of baseball players are Latinos, the MLB has worked to engage the Latinx community. The baseball league began a campaign known as #PonleAcento (or “Put an Accent on It”). #PonleAcento brings awareness to the presence of the various Latinx players and their unique names. It recognizes the accent marks associated with the names of the Latinx players.
During this year’s spring training, the MLB maintains a special connection with members of the Latinx community by revealing the player lineup for Southern California’s biggest teams: the Dodgers and Angels. The Dodgers recently traded outfielder Alex Verdugo, a Mexican-American outfielder to the Boston Red Sox. Despite the loss of one of its players, the team has introduced new talent for spring training including players like pitchers Brusdar Graterol and Octavio Becerra.
With a fastball and sinker reaching 100MPH, Graterol brings new skills to the team. Originally part of the Red Sox, the Venezuelan made the switch to the Dodgers on February 10 of this year. Once traded, Graterol captured the attention of many sports outlets including Sports Illustrated.
Originally from Mexico, Becerra started off selling tacos in his home state of Jalisco. He originally played for Aguascalientes of the Mexican League and was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in La Liga Mexicana de Beisból.
As for the Dodgers’ returning squad, Pedro Báez a pitcher from the Dominican Republic is set to play for the Dodgers another year. Julio Urías, a Mexican pitcher from Sinaloa prepares to enter the new season as well. Puerto Rico also has representation on the team through one of its major stars, Kiké Hernández, who fills in the position of a utility player. These old and new stars provide the support needed for the Dodgers to make it to the World Series. Known as the rival of the Dodgers, the Los Angeles Angels encourages the rise of minority baseball players, too.
One Latinx player that headlines the Angels roster is Albert Pujols, a first baseman and designated hitter from the Dominican Republic. In 2018, Pujols became the 32nd player to join the prestigious 3,000 hits club. As one of the oldest players in the MLB, Pujols, 40, has been a two-time World Series champion, ten-time All-Star, and a recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award.
Hailing from Cartagena, Colombia, pitcher Julio Teherán joins the Angels this season from the Atlanta Braves — where he was a two-time All-Star.
Félix Peña, on the other hand, represents a pitcher from the Dominican Republic. Peña does have an ACL injury, but his acceptance into the Angels squad demonstrates that the baseball team recognizes the his potential.
Interestingly, the players are not the only ones who come from Latinx descent. The Angels’ head coach José Molina is Puerto Rican. In his playing career, Molina won two World Series rings during his time as a catcher for the Angels and New York Yankees. Molina began his coaching in 2015.
Overall, various MLB teams have hired talented players from different backgrounds, including many Latinx players, recognizing the potential that they have to make their teams stronger.