2023 Liga Mexicana de Beisbol Preview: The Teams of Zona Norte

Players of Acereros de Monclova celebrate after win the champion trophy during the 7th game between Leones de Yucatan and Acereros de Monclova as part of the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol 2019 at Monclova Stadium on October 2, 2019 in Monclova, Mexico. (Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images)

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

The Liga Mexicana de Beisbol season will kick off on Friday, April 21. 2023 marks the Mexican summer league’s 98th season, since its inception in 1925. 

There are nine organizations in Liga Mexicana de Besibol’s Zona Norte. Each team will play a 114-game schedule in 2023, followed by a five-team postseason tournament within the division. The championship is titled the Serie del Rey, and features the Zona Norte and Zona Sur champions. The two teams play a best-of-seven series to determine the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol champion.

Before the 2023 season gets underway, let’s take a brief look at each of the nine Zona Norte Division organizations, players, and team history. 

Toros de Tijuana (2004-2008;2014-Present)

The Toros de Tijuana finished the 2022 season with a regular season win-loss record of 62-28, and lost to Acereros de Monclova in the Zona Norte playoff series four games to two. Outfielder Felix Perez had a fantastic year at the dish in 2022 for the Toros with a batting average of .323 and 38 home runs. Perez had a team high 109 RBI. Former Major League Baseball relief pitcher Sam Dyson threw 40.2 innings for Toros de Tijuana in 2022, and struck out 45 hitters. The team is managed by Homar Rojas. Toros de Tijuana has won the Serie del Rey two times, most recently in 2021. 

Tecolotes de los dos Laredos (1940-Present)

The Tecolotes de los dos Laredos finished the 2022 regular season with a win-loss record of 59-27. They lost to Sultanes de Monterrey four games to one in the Zona Norte playoff series. First baseman and designated hitter Kennys Vargas had an exceptional 2022 season, hitting 17 home runs and finished with a .324/.462/.566 slash line.  Former MLB journeyman Junior Guerra went 8-3 in 16 starts for Telecolotes de los Laredos in 2022, striking out 87 in 83.1 innings. The team is managed by Felix Fermin. Tecolotes de los dos Laredos has won the Serie del Rey five times, most recently in 1989. 

Acereros de Monclova (1974-Present) 

The Acereros de Monclova finished the 2022 regular season with a win-loss record of 54-31. They would lose four games to two in the Zona Norte series against Toros de Tijuana. Shortstop Addison Russell, a former World Series champion with the Chicago Cubs, hit .348 with 24 home runs in 2022 for Acereros de Monclova. Relief pitcher Nick Goody, originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the 22nd round of the 2011 MLB Draft, had a 2.40 ERA in 15 innings and struck out 24. The team is managed by Edwin Rodriguez. The Acereros de Monclova has won one Serie del Rey, in 2019. 

Sultanes de Monterrey (1939-Present)

The Sultanes de Monterrey finished the 2022 regular season with a win-loss record of 51-39. They made it all the way to game seven of the Serie del Rey, ultimately losing the series to Leones de Yucatan. Outfielder Zoilo Almonte hit 27 home runs in 90 games played, and batted .322. Former Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz dominated for Sultanes de Monterrey, pitching to a 2.89 ERA and struck out 51 in 43.2 innings. The team is managed by Roberto Kelly, who enjoyed a lengthy 14-year MLB career. Sultanes de Monterrey has won the Serie del Rey 10 times, most recently in 2018. 

Algodoneros de Unión Laguna (1940-Present) 

The Algodoneros de Union Laguna finished the 2022 regular season with a win-loss record of 48-40. They would go on to lose four games to one against Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos in the first round of the postseason. Third baseman Yangervis Solarte hit .317 at the plate, and sent 20 balls over the wall. Starting pitcher Josh A. Smith went 2-1 in eight starts in 2022, and recorded a 3.66 ERA. The team is managed by Ramon Orantes. The Algodoneros de Unión Laguna has won the Serie del Rey twice, most recently in 1950. 

Rieleros de Aguascalientes (1975-Present) 

The Rieleros de Aguascalientes finished the 2022 regular season with a win-loss record of 42-46. They would go on to be swept by the Toros de Tijuana in the first round of the postseason. Outfielder Jorge Gonzalez will be back with the team in 2023 after hitting an impressive .325 in 221 plate appearances. Relief pitcher Jose Luna helped shut the door on imposing hitters, striking out 47 in 46 innings. He finished the season with a 2.35 ERA. The team is managed by Luis Rivera. The Rieleros de Aguascalientes has won the Serie del Rey once in 1978. 

Saraperos de Saltillo (1970-Present) 

The Saraperos de Saltillo finished the 2022 regular season with a win-loss record 38-52 and did not qualify for the postseason. Outfielder Rainel Rosario led the team in almost every offensive category, including home runs, runs batted in, and OPS. Relief pitcher Irwin Delgado was the most consistent of the pitching staff with a 4.85 ERA in 52 innings. He struck out 40. The team is managed by Mark Weidemaier. The Saraperos de Saltillo has won the Serie del Rey three times, most recently in 2010. 

Generales de Durango (2016-Present) 

The Generales de Durango finished the 2022 regular season with a win-loss record of 37-53 and did not qualify for the postseason. Aneury Tavarez, an outfielder with Generales de Durango, hit 23 homers and stole 15 bases in 18 attempts. He was second on the team in OPS, with a 1.124. Although the team ERA was 7.83, Tiago da Silva kept his to 2.04 in 12 games started. He walked only eight hitters in 39.1 innings. The team is managed by Oscar Robles. Generales de Durango is seeking its first Serie del Rey championship.

Mariachis de Guadalajara (2020-Present) 

The Mariachis de Guadalajara finished the 2022 regular season with a win-loss record of 33-57 and did not qualify for the postseason. Utility player Fernando Perez is the standout hitter for Mariachis de Guadalajara, as he hit .289 with 24 home runs last season. He was the team RBI leader with 84. The lowest ERA on the team belonged to former Chicago White Sox pitcher Michael Ynoa, with a 2.57 in 14 innings. The next closest ERA for a pitcher that threw more than 10 innings was 4.63, belonging to Oscar Felix. The team is managed by Luis Borges. Mariachis de Guadalajara is seeking its first Serie del Rey championship.

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