| Detroit Free Press
Detroit Tigers’ Jose Urena ‘happy’ to join team on one-year deal
Detroit Tigers right-hander Jose Urena speaks Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, about joining a new organization and what he hopes to accomplish.
Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press
Make no mistake, pitchers in the Mexican Pacific Winter League aren’t on par with Major League Baseball. Still, Detroit Tigers third baseman Isaac Paredes — at 21 years old — is a batting champion in his native country.
And the Tigers’ No. 6 prospect (MLB Pipeline) is one of six candidates for the league’s MVP award.
In 42 regular-season games, Paredes went 55-for-145 (.379) with four home runs, 26 RBIs, 27 walks and 12 strikeouts. He also led the league in on-base percentage (.480), on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.060) and doubles (17). He was third in slugging percentage with a .579 mark.
[ Tigers prospect Daz Cameron suffers arm injury in Puerto Rico ]
Paredes tied for fifth with 21 extra-base hits. He had hitting streaks of six games, 11 games and 12 games throughout the season and had 12 multi-hit games.
Paredes has spent his last four offseasons in Mexico, but this is by far his most impressive. He went 20-for-54 (.370) in 15 games in 2017-18, 35-for-148 (.236) in 45 games in 2018-19 and 49-for-166 (.295) in 44 games in 2019-20.
His first three seasons were for Yaquis de Obregon. This winter, he played for Venados de Mazatlán. As his offensive tear continued, he earned the nickname “El Tigre” from his teammates.
Paredes played third base in 39 of his 42 games — the other three games were as designated hitter. He made four errors in 98 chances, good for a .959 fielding percentage.
[ Why the Tigers like the work Isaac Paredes is doing in Mexican winter league ]
Paredes made his MLB debut in August for the Tigers and played 34 games. He went 22-for-100 (.220) with four doubles, one home run and six RBIs. He had eight walks compared to 24 strikeouts.
From Sept. 12 through Sept. 24, he logged a 10-game hitting streak. It was the team’s second-most last season (to Miguel Cabrera’s 13 games) and the most by a Tiger rookie since Will Rhymes had a 12-game streak in the 2010 season. Also, Paredes was the first Tiger to have at least six RBIs in his first four games since Pete Fox in 1933.
With the Mexican league’s regular season and Paredes’ batting title in the books, he has turned his attention to the playoffs. Venados de Mazatlán entered as the eighth and final team, receiving a matchup with top-ranked Naranjeros de Hermosillo.
[ How Paredes was discovered in Mexico: ‘This guy’s got it’ ]
Through two postseason games, Paredes is 3-for-7 (.429) with two walks and one strikeout. Venados de Mazatlán trails in the series, 2-0, and Game 3 of the best-of-five series is scheduled for 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Candelario seeks repeat championship
While Paredes faces elimination in Mexico, Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario — who played 43 of his 52 MLB games last season at first base — is chasing his second consecutive Dominican Winter League championship for Toros del Este.
During the regular season, the 27-year-old went 8-for-42 (.190) with three doubles, four RBIs, four walks and seven strikeouts in 11 games. But Candelario has found his stride through two postseason games, helping Toros del Este to a 2-1 series lead over Águilas Cibaeñas in the best-of-seven semifinals.
[ How Jeimer Candelario plans to build on breakthrough 2020 season ]
Candelario is 3-for-9 (.333) with three walks and three strikeouts in the playoffs. Last winter, Toros del Este secured the league championship; Candelario was named the MVP of the final series.
In the Dominican Winter League’s regular season, Candelario made starts at third base (eight), first base (two) and designated hitter (one). He spent two innings at second base as a defensive replacement, as well. He made two errors — both at third base — in 32 total chances for a .938 fielding percentage.
Candelario was named the 2020 Tiger of the Year after going 55-for-185 (.297) with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 52 games.
Others in Dominican playoffs
Left-handed reliever Gregory Soto (Águilas Cibaeñas) and righty Jose Cisnero (Gigantes del Cibao) are active for the postseason, but only Soto has pitched through three games for each squad. He secured the save in a 3-1 win over Toros del Este on Monday, striking out two batters in his scoreless ninth inning.
In the regular season, Soto had a 3.60 ERA in five games (five innings), recording three strikeouts and one walk. Cisnero appeared in four games (3⅓ innings), with two strikeouts and three walks.
[ Tigers sign Jose Urena, but their short-term pitching plan hasn’t worked recently ]
Right-hander Drew Carlton pitched for Leones del Escogido, but his team was eliminated from the playoffs in a best-of-five wild card series against Estrellas Orientales. The 25-year-old posted a 0.63 ERA and a 0.698 WHIP in 14 games (14⅓ innings) in the regular season. He had 11 strikeouts and only allowed one walk.
Carlton, who pitched for Double-A Erie in 2019, struggled in the playoffs, giving up three runs in 1⅓ innings across two appearances. He had one walk and one strikeout.
[ Drew Carlton ‘keeps having success’ as journey stops in Dominican Republic ]
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.