The Top 10 MLB Players From Mexico

Mexico has its own baseball league, but plenty of talented players have crossed the border to play Major League Baseball in the U.S. over the years. They have yet to produce a player that's made it to Cooperstown, but it's bound to happen someday.

Here's a look at the 10 best players in MLB history to come out of Mexico.

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Fernando Valenzuela

Fernando Valenzuela

Fernando Warming Up/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Position: Starting pitcher

Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (1980-90), California Angels (1991), Baltimore Orioles (1993), Philadelphia Phillies (1994), San Diego Padres (1995-97), St. Louis Cardinals (1997)​​

Stats: 18 seasons, 173-153, 3.54 ERA, 2930 IP, 2718 H, 2074 Ks, 1.320 WHIP

"Fernandomania" took Los Angeles by storm in 1981 when the 20-year-old left-hander dazzled the National League and won both Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award. Born in Navojoa, Sonora, Valenzuela went on to be one of the best pitchers of the 1980s, winning 21 games in 1986 and finishing in the top five of the Cy Young voting four times in a six-year period. He also threw a no-hitter in 1990. A screwball specialist, he bounced around throughout the second half of his career, but he remains beloved in Los Angeles where he was a great ticket draw for the Mexican community in Southern California.

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Bobby Avila

Bobby Avila photo
Getty Images

Position: Second baseman

Teams: Cleveland Indians (1949-58), Baltimore Orioles (1959), Boston Red Sox (1959), Milwaukee Braves (1959)

Stats: 11 seasons, .281, 1,296 hits, 80 HR, 467 RBI, .747 OPS

Roberto "Bobby" Avila was born in Veracruz and was the first Mexican player to win a batting title, which he achieved with the Indians in 1954. He hit .341 and was third in MVP voting that season when the Indians won the AL pennant. He was a three-time All-Star, and "Beto" was a key figure in the development of baseball in Mexico. Elected mayor of Veracruz and president of the Mexican Baseball League after his retirement, he died in 2004 at the age of 80.

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Teddy Higuera

Teddy Higuera

Jerry Reuss/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Position: Starting pitcher

Teams: Milwaukee Brewers (1985-94)

Stats: Nine seasons, 94-64, 3.61 ERA, 1380 IP, 1262 H, 1081 Ks, 1.236 WHIP

If he hadn't torn his rotator cuff in 1991, Higuera could have been in Valenzuela's neighborhood as far as big-league success goes. He was an All-Star in 1986 and was one of the top left-handed starters in the game in the late 1980s for the Milwaukee Brewers. A native of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Higuera was second in Rookie of the Year balloting in 1985 and was second in Cy Young voting in 1986 when he went 20-11 with a 2.79 ERA. He had the first 20-win season for a Mexican-born player in the American League.

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Vinny Castilla

Vinny Castilla photo
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Position: Third baseman

Teams: Atlanta Braves (1991-92), Colorado Rockies (1993-99, 2004, 2006), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2000-01), Houston Astros (2001), Atlanta Braves (2002-03), Washington Nationals (2005), San Diego Padres (2006), Colorado Rockies (2006)

Stats: 16 seasons, .276, 320 HR, 1,105 RBI, .797 OPS

Statistically speaking, Castilla is the top hitter from Mexico in big-league history, but he achieved much of that in the 1990s in Colorado when offensive statistics were all out of whack in the Rocky Mountain air. A native of Oaxaca, Castilla had five consecutive 100-plus RBI seasons and hit 46 home runs in 1998. He led the NL in RBIs in 2004 with 131. Castilla had an OPS of .870 with the Rockies. On every other team, his OPS was .663.

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Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo photo
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Position: Starting pitcher

Teams: Milwaukee Brewers (2007-14), Texas Rangers (2015), Baltimore Orioles (2016), Seattle Mariners (2017) 

Stats through May 12, 2017: 109-86, 3.81 ERA, 1631 IP, 1,567 H, 1.340 WHIP

One of the top current pitchers in the game, Gallardo moved to Fort Worth, Texas, from his hometown of Penjamillo, Michoacan, as a child. He was a second-round draft pick in 2004. An All-Star at the age of 24 and a 17-game winner at age 25, he followed that up with a 16-win season in 2012. 

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Esteban Loaiza

Esteban Loaiza photo
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Position: Starting pitcher

Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates (1994-98), Texas Rangers (1998-2000), Toronto Blue Jays (2000-02), Chicago White Sox (2003-04, 2008), New York Yankees (2004), Washington Nationals (2005), Oakland A's (2006-07), Los Angeles Dodgers (2007-08)

Stats: 14 seasons, 126-114, 4.65 ERA, 2099 IP, 1382 Ks, 1.408 WHIP

A native of Tijuana, Loaiza graduated from high school in Southern California but he was not drafted. He went on to become a solid big-league journeyman. He made the American League All-Star team in back-to-back seasons in 2003 and 2004. He won 21 games and finished second in the American League Cy Young Award voting in 2003 with the White Sox, leading the AL in strikeouts with 207.

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Ismael Valdez

Ismael Valdez photo
David Seelig/Allsport

Position: Starting pitcher

Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (1994-2000), Chicago Cubs (2000), Anaheim Angels (2001), Texas Rangers (2002-03), Seattle Mariners (2003), San Diego Padres (2004), Florida Marlins (2004-05)

Stats: 12 seasons, 104-105, 4.09 ​ERA, 1827 1/3 IP, 1173 Ks, 1.311 WHIP

Valdez broke in as a phenom with the Dodgers in 1994 and, like Valenzuela, had his best success in Dodger blue before bouncing around later in his career. A native of Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Valdez was 15-7 with a 3.32 ERA in 1996. 

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Jorge Orta

Jorge Orta signed card

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Position: Second baseman and outfielder

Teams: Chicago White Sox (1972-79), Cleveland Indians (1980-81), Los Angeles Dodgers (1982), Toronto Blue Jays (1983), Kansas City Royals (1984-87)

Stats: 16 seasons, .278, 130 HR, 745 RBI, .746 OPS

Orta was a two-time All-Star in a solid big league career. He's perhaps best remembered for a play in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series when he was with the Royals. Pinch hitting in the eighth inning, he was called safe by umpire Don Denkinger on a play at first base when he was clearly out. It ignited a rally and the Royals won the game and the World Series a night later over the St. Louis Cardinals. Orta, from Mazatlan, Sinaloa, is the all-time leader in steals by a Mexican-born player with 79.

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Joakim Soria

Joakim Soria photo
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Position: Relief pitcher

Teams: Kansas City Royals (2007-11), Texas Rangers (2013-2014), Detroit Tigers (2015), Pittsburgh Pirates (2015), Kansas City Royals (2016-17) 

Stats as of May 12, 2017: 10 seasons, 26-29, 2.75 ERA, 203 saves, 534.3 IP, 573 Ks, 1.114 WHIP

Soria became one of the top young closers in baseball with the Kansas City Royals for four seasons, saving 160 games and becoming a two-time All-Star. A native of Monclova, Coahuila, he missed the 2012 season with Tommy John elbow surgery and signed with the Texas Rangers in 2013. He is the all-time saves leader among Mexican-born players.

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Aurelio Rodriguez

Aurelio Rodriguez

California Angels/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Position: Third baseman

Teams: California Angels (1967-70), Washington Senators (1970), Detroit Tigers (1971-79), San Diego Padres (1980), New York Yankees (1980-81), Chicago White Sox (1982-83), Baltimore Orioles (1983)

Stats: 17 seasons, .237, 124 HR, 648 RBI, .626 OPS

Rodriguez hung around for 17 big-league seasons thanks to his glove and strong arm at third base. He was one of the top fielding third basemen of his era. A native of Cananea, Sonora, Rodriguez broke into the big leagues at age 19 and hit 19 homers with the Washington Senators in 1970 at age 22. Late in his career, he hit .417 in the 1981 World Series for the Yankees. He died at age 52 in 2000, when he was hit by a car that jumped a curb in Detroit.

The Next Five Best Players From Mexico

1) RHP Sergio Romo (active, 6 seasons, 23-13, 2.30 ERA, 37 saves); 2) RHP Aurelio Lopez (11 years, 62-36, 3.56, 93 saves); 3) RHP Rodrigo Lopez (11 years, 81-89, 4.82); 4) 1B Erubiel Durazo (6 years, .281, 94 HR, 330 RBI); 5) LHP Oliver Perez (11 seasons, active, 61-74, 4.48)