Cesar Salazar went full circle (Hermosillo, Sonora, to Tucson and back to Hermosillo) tonight playing for the Hermosillo Naranjeros against his former team, the Arizona Wildcats, in the Mexican Baseball Fiesta at the Kino Sports Complex.
He is from Hermosillo and watched the Naranjeros play while growing up there.
He moved to Tucson and starred at Sahuaro High School before becoming a pro prospect with Arizona.
And now he is playing for the Naranjeros this winter before embarking on his first full season of minor-league baseball in the Houston Astros organization in the spring.
“It’s going to be weird seeing those guys in the other dugout, but I’m ready. I’m excited. I can’t wait to compete against them,” Salazar said a couple of hours before playing against the Wildcats.
When asked if he made any personal bets with Arizona coach Jay Johnson, Salazar said smiling, “No, no, we’re just talking a little bit of smack between each other.”
After Salazar signed in June with Houston, which drafted him in the seventh round, he played in 36 games for the New York-Penn League’s Tri-City Valley Cats and the Class A Quad Cities River Bandits. He batted .197 with three home runs and 17 RBIs in 117 at-bats for those two teams.
“You’ve got to get used to it,” Salazar said of playing every day instead of three games a week like he did at Arizona. “Pitching-wise, you’re facing a Friday night (ace pitcher) guy every day. … Hitting is the biggest thing I wanted to learn. The Astros do a really good job with the analytics — how to break down a swing and how to fix it. That’s the main thing I have to focus on.”
Here is a video of my interview with Salazar outside of the Naranjeros’ clubhouse at Kino. I was able to catch him right before he had to report for a pregame workout.
The Naranjeros also feature brothers Juan and Luis Gamez, both Cienega High School graduates.
Arizona played only tonight in the Mexican Baseball Fiesta.
Here is Friday’s schedule at Kino Sports Complex:
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.